Restricting Access to Affordable Medicines

Restricting Access to Affordable Medicines

Big Pharma has hijacked “trade” agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to expand their monopoly power and raise medicine prices.

Multinational pharmaceutical companies use the corporate-captured trade negotiation process to create new rights and powers for themselves so that can limit consumers’ access to cheaper generic drugs.

This includes expanding the length and scope of monopoly patent rights and even limiting the ability of Medicaid and other government health programs to negotiate for lower medicine prices.

At home, that means higher prices and more rationing of medicine. For people in developing countries these rules would be deadly – denying consumers access to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer drugs.

Attacking Public Health Programs, Policies and Reforms

One of the special corporate rights that multinational pharmaceutical companies already have under NAFTA is the ability to directly attack domestic patent and drug-pricing laws in front of panels of three corporate lawyers.

Drug firm Eli Lilly launched such a case against Canada, demanding $500 million for the government’s enforcement of its own patent standards. Often initiatives to improve laws are chilled by the mere filing of such an “investor-state” case. In other instances, countries eliminate the attacked policies.

Pharmaceutical companies tried to expand their ability to attack government policies to reduce medicine prices in agreements such as the recently defeated TPP. They say adding these outrageous terms to NAFTA is their top priority.

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