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Global Trade Watch Home  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Page

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Restricting Access to Affordable Medicines


The Trans-Pacific Partnership would provide large pharmaceutical firms new rights and powers to increase medicine prices and limit consumers' access to cheaper generic drugs. This would include extensions of monopoly drug patents that would allow drug companies to raise prices for more medicines and even allow monopoly rights over surgical procedures. For people in developing countries involved in the TPP, these rules could be deadly – denying consumers access to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer drugs.

The TPP would also establish new rules that could undermine government efforts to contain rising medicine prices in developed countries like the United States. An analysis of the final TPP text shows taxpayer-funded public health programs would be exposed to pharmaceutical company attacks and constrain future policy reforms to reduce prescription drug costs for Americans. The text explicitly binds Medicare to TPP rules that would limit proposed policy changes to tamp down healthcare costs for seniors.

TPP would further empower foreign pharmaceutical corporations to directly attack our domestic patent and drug-pricing laws in foreign tribunals. Already under NAFTA, which does not contain new corporate privileges proposed for the TPP, drug firm Eli Lilly has launched such a case against Canada, demanding $500 million for the government's enforcement of its own patent standards.

The TPP would also empower multinational corporations to directly challenge domestic toxics, zoning, cigarette and alcohol and other public health and environmental policies, and to demand taxpayer compensation for "expected future profits" they claim were inhibited by such policies. Often initiatives to improve such laws are chilled by the mere filing of such an "investor-state" case. In other instances, countries eliminate the attacked policies. For instance, Canada lifted a ban on a gasoline additive banned in the U.S. as a known human neurotoxin after an investor-state attack by Ethyl Corporation under NAFTA. Canada also paid the firm $13 million and published a formal statement that the chemical was not hazardous.

 



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