Available for Interview: Experts Warn that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Endanger Global Access to Affordable Medicine
In response to today’s signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Auckland, New Zealand, academic and legal experts warn that if ratified, the agreement will endanger global access to affordable medicines. Spokespeople from Health GAP, Public Citizen, amfAR, Doctors without Borders (MSF), Knowledge Ecology International, and Universities Allied for Essential Medicine are available for background and commentary.
“Twelve countries are today symbolically signing away their sovereign rights to control Big Pharma’s hegemonic control of access to medicines around the Pacific Rim. Transnational drug companies are given new powers to gain, extend, and enforce monopolies on medicines and to delay, prevent, and exclude generic competition to the detriment of people needing access to live-enhancing scientific advances. Hopefully a groundswell of opposition will defeat their gigantic corporate give away,” said Brook Baker of Health GAP.
Mr. Baker is a professor at Northeastern University School of Law and has worked with Health GAP since 2001. He has written, consulted, and campaigned extensively on intellectual property rights, trade, and access to medicines with the African Union, ASEAN, Venezuela, the World Health Organization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Medicines Patent Pool, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, and is an NGO board member to UNITAID.
“If ratified, the TPP would contribute to preventable suffering and death for people along the Pacific Rim who will be awaiting access to affordable medicines. The pharmaceutical lobby’s extraordinary election spending has moved the U.S. government to bully smaller and poorer countries into wasting scarce health system dollars on excessive monopoly protections for drug companies. This is the antithesis of free markets and an extremely inefficient, harmful way of funding medical research and development,” said Peter Maybarduk, the Director of Access to Medicines at Public Citizen.
Peter Maybarduk directs Public Citizen’s access to medicines and knowledge economy group, which helps partners around the world overcome high-price pharmaceutical monopolies and secure the benefits of science, technology and culture for all. Maybarduk has provided technical assistance to international organizations and to public agencies and civil society groups in more than three dozen countries
“As students at our universities, we have a responsibility to the public interest, whether it be it in law, medicine, or public health. The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal undermines the ability of future governments to act in order to protect their people’s health, and conflicts with the US’ international obligations under the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health to insure that people have a basic right to access affordable, life-saving medicines,” noted Sophia TonNu, of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.
Ms. TonNu, a student leader of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. is currently a fellow at Yale University’s Global Health Justice Partnership and an MPH student focusing on health policy. Her current projects include efforts to increase research integrity & transparency, a global advocacy campaign to increase access to biomedical research, and policy work to increase access to hepatitis C prevention & treatment with the Treatment Action Group(TAG).
“The global community would never have achieved its successes in addressing the HIV epidemic if the terms of the proposed TPP were the international standard in 2001. The provisions expected to be enshrined in it would have altered the course of HIV programs and prevented India (and others) from supplying generic versions of on-patent medication to the hardest hit countries. The HIV epidemic today would look decidedly different, more desperate, and more fatal,” said Brian Honermann, of amfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research.
Mr. Honermann is Senior Research Advisor in amfAR’s Public Policy Office where he focuses on access to medicines, data transparency, and budget monitoring. Prior to joining amfAR, Brian worked for Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law evaluating transition strategies for incorporating NGO led health programs into Ministry directed public health systems.
“The TPP deal being signed today is the worst trade deal ever for access to medicines and will make life-saving treatments unaffordable for those who need them most. That’s why it’s critical that people demand their governments uphold their obligations to protect public health and fight back against unjust profiteering that would be enabled by the TPP”, said Judit Rius Sanjuan, MSF’s US Access Campaign manager.
Judit Rius Sanjuan is the U.S. Manager & Legal Policy Adviser, Access Campaign, Medecins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
“In the area of medicine, the TPP is a partial wish list for big drug companies, not as bad as they wanted, but bad enough to kill people, and designed to hurt the poor the most. It is also a missed opportunity to have an agreement that would have boosted R&D spending without high drug prices. Legislators should reject the TPP, and go back to the drawing board, for an agreement that progressively delinks R&D costs from drug prices, ” said James Love of Knowledge Ecology international.
James Love is the Director of Knowledge Ecology International. In 2006, KEI received a McArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions for his work on intellectual property rights. In 2013, J. Love received the EFF Pioneer Award, for his work on a UN treaty on copyright exceptions for persons who are blind or have other disabilities. In 2015, he received, with his wife Manon Ress, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage. Jamie Love has been an expert in several compulsory licensing cases, and is an advocate of delinking R&D costs from drug prices.