Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international humanitarian-aid non-governmental organisation has expressed grave concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP), that the inclusion of several provisions in the trade pact would dismantle public health safeguards enshrined in international law and restrict access to price-lowering generic medicines for millions of people.
TPP is a trade deal negotiated in secretly without public review between Singapore and eleven other countries in the Pacific-Rim.
If it comes into force, TPP may affect millions of people’s access to affordable medicines, the NGO worries. The official release of the agreed TPP text “confirms that the deal will further delay price-lowering generic competition by extending and strengthening monopoly market protections for pharmaceutical companies,” MSF said.
Not only is TPP bad news for people who need affordable medicines around the world, including Singapore, but it is also not good for humanitarian aid providing non-governmental organisations (NGO), MSF expressed.
MSF is troubled that at a time when the high price of life-saving medicines and vaccines is increasingly recognised as a barrier to effective medical care, Governments such as Singapore’s and “pharmaceutical companies have succeeded in locking in rules that will keep medicine prices high for longer and limit the tools that governments and civil society have to try to increase generic competition”.
“For example, if enacted, the TPP will not allow national regulatory authorities to use existing data that demonstrates a biological product’s safety and efficacy to authorise the sale of competitor products, even in the absence of patents,” MSF said.
“The TPP would also force governments to extend existing patent monopolies beyond current 20-year terms at the request of pharmaceutical companies, and to redefine what type of medicine deserves a patent, including mandating the granting of new patents for modifications of existing medicines,” it added.
The “dangerous provisions” in the TPP text will raise the price of medicines and cause unnecessary sufferings but it is still not too late to prevent such further restrictions, the international NGO feels.
“As the text now goes to national legislatures for final approval, we urge all TPP governments to carefully consider whether the agreed TPP text reflects the direction they want to take on access to affordable medicines and promotion of biomedical innovation; if it does not, the TPP should be modified or rejected,” MSF made an urgent appeal to Parliamentarians.
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