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Civil Society Organizations Send Sign-on Letter on Access to Medicines and the TPP to Ambassador Kirk

By Civil Society Organizations

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Dear Ambassador Kirk,

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, write to you regarding intellectual property provisions in the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). We are concerned that intellectual property measures that may be included in an eventual agreement could undermineaccess to medicines, and contravene candidate Obama’s promised “support [for] the rights ofsovereign nations to access quality-assured, low cost generic medication to meet their pressing health needs under the WTO’s Declaration on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).”

Nearly two billion people still lack regular access to medicines in developing countries. Although several important factors contribute to this, one critical problem is the high price of monopolized medicines. Intellectual property provisions that go beyond the standard required bythe WTO’s TRIPS Agreement (“TRIPS-plus” measures) restrict generic competition, leading tomedicine prices that are unaffordable for most people, and healthcare costs that restrict publicprograms’ ability to provide treatment.

The previous Administration negotiated and signed a series of trade agreements imposing TRIPS-plus measures on developing countries, and restricting the use of TRIPS flexibilities. However, the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, the most recent U.S. trade agreement to be ratified and implemented, benefited from an historic agreement between the U.S. Congress and the previous administration. This May 10th, 2007 agreement achieved an unprecedented reversal in the decade-long trend of increasingly severe intellectual property provisions. Intellectual property provisions in the Peru agreement make patent term extensions and patent linkage voluntary instead of mandatory, and place limits on the term and scope of data exclusivity.