In Boon for Big Pharma, TTIP Would Lock In High Drug Prices: Report

As E.U. and U.S. officials meet in New York this week for the 15th round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, a new report warns of how the corporate-friendly, increasingly unpopular deal could “lock in” high drug prices and “help entrench a broken medical innovation system.”

Specifically, the analysis explains how expanding intellectual property rules and monopoly protections for medicines, which the TTIP seeks to do, is counterproductive at a time when E.U. member states and the U.S. “are facing a looming access to medicines crisis.”

According to the report:

Indeed, “Given the record level of public outrage and debate over skyrocketing medicine prices in the U.S. and Europe, it is inconceivable that a trade agreement attempts to set into stone even more pro-industry rules,” said Sophie Bloemen, co-founder of the E.U.-based Commons Network, which released Monday’s report (pdf) along with Health Action International, of the Netherlands, and U.S. watchdog group Public Citizen.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières has similarly warned that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—also stalled largely due to public opposition—contains “aggressive intellectual property (IP) rules that would restrict access to affordable, lifesaving medicines for millions of people.”

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What’s more, the groups express concern that the TTIP would create more opportunities “for industry to influence national pharmaceutical policies.” As the report reads:

“Big Pharma expects negotiators to serve its corporate profit interests in these talks,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “Unfortunately, trade agreements have become one more mechanism for drug corporations to expand their monopoly power.”

The latest round of TTIP talks, taking place October 3-7 in New York City, comes as trade ministers openly acknowledge faltering support for the secretly negotiated trade deal.

“We call upon all negotiators in New York,” said Tessel Mellema, policy advisor at Health Action International, “not to lock Americans and Europeans into pharmaceutical innovation system that has been failing patients, and price gouging governments, for decades.”

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