International medical humanitarian organisation, Doctors Without Borders, has released a statement condemning the US backed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), stating that if the agreement were signed by all countries it could severely limit the ability of many of the world’s citizens to access affordable medicine.
As it stands, it’s not too difficult for many countries to obtain generic medication, medicine that has run out its copyright. However, with the extension of rights to copyright holders and trademark owners that the TPP proposes, this would become much harder. The companies that own the rights to to certain drugs, would be able to maintain their monopoly for longer and therefore charge higher prices for years, meaning it will take much longer for many people to gain access to the medication.
In an attempt to prevent TPP from being signed into law by participating countries, Doctors Without Borders is urging everyone that agrees with them to email United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman, with the following text:
“Dear Mr. Froman,
“I am writing to urge you and the U.S. government to withdraw aggressive provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of people.
“I am concerned about specific provisions in the intellectual property, investment and pharmaceutical pricing chapters that will make it harder for patients, governments and treatment providers to access affordable generic medicines in developing countries
“Too many people already suffer and die because the medicines they need are too expensive or do not exist. I cannot stand by as this proposed agreement threatens to restrict access even further.
“Through its global health programs, the U.S. has helped millions of people living in developing countries, and continues to invest heavily to end and control some of the world’s most devastating diseases. I urge you to ensure that the final text of the TPP does not sabotage these efforts and existing programs. Medicines should not be a luxury.
As DWB suggests, this is a very serious matter. If TPP is ever signed in without first the copyright extensions for medicines being removed, people will die because of it. With that in mind, it’s also issued a letter to American president Barack Obama, pointing out some harsh truths of the worldwide medical trade. With generic medications, DWB can treat aids patients for as little as $140 USD per person per year. With copyright protected medicine, that cost goes up to $10,000 per year.
It goes on to suggest that all, “Negotiating countries should reject provisions that will harm access to medicines and ensure that the final text is aligned with relevant global public health commitments.”
Summarising its points, the letter closes with: “The medical research and development (R&D) system as it stands today does not deliver innovation for neglected populations and it results in unaffordable medicine prices for patients worldwide. Stricter IP rules reinforce, instead of reform, this broken system.”
KitGuru Says: TPP looks likely to impact more than just internet freedoms, which are themselves once again under threat. Looks like we might need a concerted stand against this agreement in the same fashion as worldwide condemnation of SOPA, ACTA and PIPA last year.