Groups Tell President Obama to Bring Fairness to the TPP Agreement

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that 11 nations hope to enter into with the United States would block access to affordable medicines, delay generic drug competition and undermine public health policies, the organizations told the president in a letter last week.

Allies and activists discuss dangers of the TPP
Allies and activists join together for a panel to discuss the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership when it comes to access and affordability of medicine.

Representatives from the groups, which include the AFL-CIO; Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA); the American Association of Retired Persons, Oxfam, and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders Access Campaign (MSF), laid out their concerns at a news conference on Wednesday.

“First, the TPP fails to strike the right balance between fostering innovation and ensuring expedited access to more affordable medicines,” GPhA CEO and President Ralph Neas said. “It does too much to extend already generous monopolies enjoyed by brand-name drugs, and too little to ensure that safe, low-cost generic versions are available to patients as soon as legally possible. This is a very serious concern for our industry and for global health.”

The TPP, a massive job-killing proposal that would account for around 40 percent of global gross domestic product and one-third of all world trade, involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. The TPP, as currently constituted will destroys jobs, the environment, circumvent our laws, and shift scarce resources from workers to corporations and the wealthy.

Thea Lee, Deputy Chief of Staff for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, said the AFL-CIO supports protections for intellectual property, but there must be balance, especially when it comes to access to medications. Competition is needed in order to expand choice and hold down prices. TPP provisions, instead, “have gone too far in the wrong direction,” she added.

In their letter to President Obama, the groups praised his commitment to expanding health coverage and preserve Medicare, Medicaid and other health programs. But, they warned, the TPP directly undermines the sustainability of U.S. health programs and block efforts to improve them in the future.

“With important unmet public health needs, pressure on public health care expenditures and a growing aging population in the U.S., protecting patients’ access to affordable medicines is of paramount importance here as well as throughout the world,” they wrote.

Read the full letter here.