WASHINGTON, D.C. – Access to affordable cancer
treatments in the U.S and 11 other countries would be delayed for years if
terms revealed today in the leaked draft Intellectual Property Chapter of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were to go into effect, Public Citizen said. The
text, obtained by WikiLeaks, analyzed in collaboration with Public Citizen and released
today also shows worrying developments on other patent and copyright issues and
explains in part why TPP talks remain deadlocked a month before President
Barack Obama’s declared deadline for a deal.
“The leak shows our government demanding rules
that would lead to preventable suffering and death in Pacific Rim countries,
while eliminating opportunities to ease financial hardship on American families
and our health programs at home,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public
Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program. Public Citizen’s analysis and
background information is available at http://www.citizen.org/tpp-ip-wikileaks.
Measures in the text, which advantage the
patent-based pharmaceutical industry, face stiff opposition from most of the
other TPP countries and health care advocates. Entrenched disagreements on
these issues will be among the top challenges for TPP trade ministers who will
be meeting in Australia at the end of October in an effort to meet Obama’s
November deadline to complete negotiations.
Large brand-name drug firms want to use the TPP
to impose rules throughout Asia that will raise prices on medicine purchases for
consumers and governments, and be in effect for the next several decades. With
billions at stake, Big Pharma wants the TPP to be a road map for rules that
will govern Pacific Rim economies for the next several decades.
A U.S. proposal in the text – to provide long
automatic monopolies for biotech drugs or biologics, which includes most new
treatments for cancer – contradicts the policies included in recent White House
budgets and if adopted would undermine key cost savings touted by the
administration. The past budgets have included a specific pledge to shorten the
same monopoly periods so as to reduce cost burdens on Medicare and Medicaid.
If the TPP is ratified with this U.S.-proposed
provision included, Congress would be unable to reduce monopoly periods without
risking significant penalties and investor-state arbitration.
“The White House undermines its pledge to cut
drug costs with the harmful position it is taking in these secretive
negotiations, at the behest of the major pharmaceutical companies,” said Maybarduk.
The TPP is a controversial agreement being
pushed by multinational corporations and negotiated behind closed doors by
officials from the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan,
Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The newly leaked
text is dated May 16, 2014; however, through close monitoring of negotiations,
Public Citizen has been able to establish that the contentious issues revealed
in the text remain unresolved.
WikiLeaks obtained an earlier draft of the same
chapter last year, dated Aug. 30, 2013. The measure on biotech drugs is one of
several key revelations new to this leak. Others include:
- A measure that could expand online service
provider surveillance of Internet users’ activity, including in the United
- A rule to require the patenting of plant-related
inventions, such as the genes inserted into genetically modified plants,
putting farmers in developing countries at the mercy of the agriculture
industry, including seed manufacturers such as Monsanto, and threatening food
security in these countries more broadly;
- Proposals for mitigating the pact’s harms to
access to medicines in developing countries, none of which will suffice;
- The elimination of proposals for patents on
- A reduction in scope of other proposed monopoly
protections for the pharmaceutical industry; and
- The expected failure of a thinly veiled U.S.
attack on an India-style pro-competition patent law, which facilitates access
“Many Pacific Rim negotiators deserve great
credit for standing up to one of the most powerful industries on earth,” said
Burcu Kilic, a Public Citizen expert in intellectual property rules who has
closely monitored the talks. “But still the text is far from being acceptable. It would hurt people and developing economies if it were implemented.”
TPP negotiators are scheduled to sit down again
in Australia on Oct. 19-24 with a ministerial-level meeting following on Oct.
25-27. Obama seeks a final announcement on the TPP on Nov. 11, when he will be
with other TPP country heads of state in China at the APEC summit.