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 the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is the ability to directly attack domestic patent and drug-pricing laws in front of panels of three corporate lawyers.
Learn more about the Investor-State Dispute Settlement System (ISDS) system here.
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 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). They say adding these outrageous terms to NAFTA is their top priority.
Reports and Memos | Press Room | Congress Speaks Out | Civil Society Speaks Out
- TPP: Threats to Affordable Medicines Factsheet (December 29, 2015)
- TPP's Investment Rules Harm Public Health (August 20, 2015)
- Three Burning Questions about the Leaked TPP Transparency Annex and Its Implications for U.S. Health Care (June 10, 2015)
- New Leaked TPP Text Reveals Threats to Affordable Medicines (October 16, 2014)
- TPP: The "Trade" Deal that Could Inflate Your Healthcare Bill (July 21, 2014)
- U.S. Proposal Could Undermine Canadian Law; Support Eli Lilly Attacks (June 6, 2014)
- The TPP threatens access to affordable cancer treatments and other biologics (January 24, 2014)
- Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Harmful provisions for access to medicines (January 17, 2014)
- The TPP threatens access to affordable medicines (January 17, 2014)
- Medical Procedure Patents in the TPP: A Comparative Perspective on the Highly Unpopular U.S. Proposal (November 13, 2013)
- Updated and Expanded – U.S. Pharmaceutical Corporation Uses NAFTA Foreign Investor Privileges Regime to Attack Canada's Patent Policy, Demand $100 Million for Invalidation of a Patent (March 2013)
- Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership rules could undermine drug cost containment provisions of Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans' Health, hurting seniors, military families and the poor (June 14, 2012)
- At TPP Negotiations, U.S. Trade Rep Attempts to Resolve Pharmaceuticals Impasse by Wrapping Same Harmful Proposal in Different Packaging (September 30, 2015)
- Advisory: Public Citizen Experts Are at TPP Negotiations in Atlanta, Can Keep You Updated on the Talks (September 30, 2015)
- Latest TPP Leak Raises Burning Questions About Implications for U.S. Health Care System (June 10, 2015)
- Attack on Affordability of Cancer Treatments Revealed in New WikiLeaks Trans-Pacific Trade Pact Text (October 16, 2014)
- Leaked Documents Reveal Obama Administration Push for Internet Freedom Limits, Terms That Raise Drug Prices in Closed-Door Trade Talks (November 13, 2013)
- U.S. Abandons Final Pretense of Transparency or Inclusion of Consumer, Health, Environmental, Labor Perspective in TPP Talks (April 10, 2012)
- Leaked Drug Patent, Formulary Pricing Texts at Trans-Pacific Trade Talks Reveal U.S. Pushing Extreme Pharmaceutical Corporation Demands that Would Undermine Consumers' Access to Affordable Medicine (October 22, 2011)
- On Access to Medicines, Obama Trade Pact Proposal Appears Set to Undo Bush-Era Improvements (September 13, 2011)
- Trans-Pacific FTA Negotiations and Access to Medicines (December 4, 2010)
- Leaked New Zealand Paper Challenges U.S. FTA Models in Trans-Pacific Trade Negotiations; Access to Medicines at Stake (December 4, 2010)
- Representatives Blumenauer, Davis and Himes Urge Protection of Timely and Affordable Access to Medicines in TPP (July 24, 2015)
- Ways and Means Democrats Press USTR to Protect Anti-Tobacco Public Health Measures in TPP Negotiations (July 24, 2015)
- TPP in Focus: Is TPP the Most Progressive Trade Agreement in History? Not If You Need Access to Affordable Medicines. (May 28, 2015)
- Sen. Brown Urges Administration to Address TPP "Investor State" Provisions that Would Empower Big Tobacco to Challenge Public Health Laws (May 1, 2014)
- Rep. Schakowsky and Colleagues Send Letter to President Obama Expressing Concern Over Access to Affordable Health Care and the Trans Pacific Partnership (December 9, 2013)
- 11 Senators Urge USTR to Safeguard Tobacco Control Measures, Protect Public Health in Trade Agreements (November 13, 2013)
- 56 Members of Congress Write President Obama Expressing Disappointment with Weak U.S. TPP Tobacco Public Health Exception Proposal (October 30, 2013)
- Rep. Henry Waxman and Colleagues Write to Kirk on Access to Medicines in TPP Negotiations (October 19, 2011)
- Rep. John Lewis and Colleagues Write to Ambassador Kirk on TPP Public Health Standards (September 8, 2011)
- AARP, Doctors Without Borders and Other Groups Warn the White House to Not Make Onerous TPP Provisions that Contribute to Skyrocketing Medicines Prices Even Worse (October 26, 2016)
- Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America Urge Congress Not To Support Approval of the TPP (September 6, 2016)
- Letter: MSF and over 50 groups urge US Congress to reject the TPP (April 12, 2016)
- Statement by Zahara Heckscher, Cancer Patient and Founder of Cancer Thriver, about How TPP Harms Access to Medicine (January 11, 2016)
- Doctors Without Borders Statement on the Release of the TPP Text (November 5, 2015)
- Doctors Without Borders Writes to President Obama Expressing Concerns that the TPP would Restrict Access to Affordable Medicines (March 9, 2015)
- AARP, AFL-CIO, Doctors without Borders, Oxfam America and Generic Pharmaceutical Association Urge Obama to Protect Access to Affordable Medicines in the TPP (December 16, 2014)
- Civil Society Groups Express Concerns with TPP Provisions That Could Adversely Affect U.S. Prescription Drug Programs (April 30, 2014)
- AARP and U.S. Health Groups Write to President Obama on Concerns that TPP Would Undermine Access to Affordable Health Care (November 8, 2013)
- AARP letter to USTR on TPP provisions that would drive up pharmaceutical prices in the U.S. (October 22, 2013)
- Mayor Bloomberg in the New York Times: Why is Obama Caving on Tobacco? (August 22, 2013)
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Urges Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Negotiators to Exempt Tobacco Products from the Proposed Free Trade Agreement (January 2012)
- Statement of NLARx Executive Director Sharon Treat on Leaked Text on Transparency for Healthcare Marketing and Reimbursement (October 25, 2011)
- Citizens Trade Campaign: Leaked Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement Texts Reveal U.S. Pushing Extreme Pharmaceutical Corporation Demands (October 22, 2011)
- American Medical Association to Ambassador Kirk on Exclusion of Tobacco and Alcohol from TPP Negotiations (September 8, 2011)
- Civil Society Organizations Send Sign-on Letter on Access to Medicines and the TPP to Ambassador Kirk (September 9, 2010)