Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Groups: Access to medicine will be worse under TPPA

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will cause access to medicine to become worse in developing countries, said international NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
“The big losers in the TPPA are patients and treatment providers in developing countries,” said MSF Access campaign US manager and legal policy adviser Judit Rius Sanjuan in a statement yesterday.
MSF is also disappointed that the 12 countries agreed to the demands in the TPPA from the United States and multinational drug companies that will see the rise of the cost of medicine, he said.
This will happen, he explained, through the unnecessary extension of monopolies and the further delay of price-lowering generic competition.
“Although the text has improved over the initial demands, the TPPA will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries,” he said.
Sanjuan clarified that developing countries will now be forced to change their laws to incorporate abusive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies.
“These countries will pay a heavy price in the decades to come that will be measured in the impact it has on patients.
“The negative impact of the TPPA on public health will be enormous, be felt for years to come, and will not be limited to the current 12 TPPA countries, as it is a dangerous blueprint for future agreements,” he added.
Before the governments sign the TPPA for its final approval, MSF urges them to reconsider if this is the direction they want to take on access to affordable medicines and the promotion of biomedical innovation.
‘Medicines to be out of reach for those who need it’
Separately, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) and Friends of the Earth Malaysia (SAM) have released a joint statement pushing for the Malaysian government to reject the TPPA.
They agree with MSF that the cost of medicine will rise under the TPPA, causing “life-saving” medicines to be out of reach for those who need it.
Another reason to reject the TPPA, they say, is that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is an unfair mechanism.
It will allow foreign corporations to sue governments for protecting public interest and the environment, they explained.
The TPPA will also damage the socio-economic structures of our country, they argued.
“The TPPA... would seriously curb the ability of government to continue to provide preferences and advantages to domestic companies, or to enable government-linked companies from playing an important role in the economy,” CAP president SM Mohamed Idris said in a statement today.
Malaysia would stand to gain a lot less than its TPPA partners, he added, as our tariffs are generally higher.
“Thus, Malaysia has to reduce tariffs by a higher rate than others, and this will lead to an increase in imports that will offset the expected increase in our exports resulting from the TPPA,” he said.
The TPPA might even make Malaysia worse off, he argued.
CAP and SAM are also urging the government to reveal the cost and benefit analyses of the TPPA as well as the text of it so that the public can be fully aware of its implications.
~ Malaysiakini

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