nothing to be passive about…

Posted on Tuesday 18 August 2015

This time last year, I was feeling steamed that the pharmaceutical companies had been granted the right to treat the data from Clinical Trials as proprietary, private property, in the first place. That Law needed to be overturned! So I couldn’t find the Law and I wrote people in the know for help. They agreed to help, but nobody could remember. As it turned out, they couldn’t remember because there wasn’t any Law, PHARMA just assumed ownership and that was that [see repeal the proprietary data act… and except where necessary to protect the public…]. I wrote Canadian Law Professor and expert Trudo Lemmens who confirmed that, mentioning that it was loosely based on Trade Agreements and PHARMA was trying to strengthen their position. I knew I was way into something I could never master, so I moved on. But today, this article came my way:

Intellectual Property Watch
By Deborah Gleeson and Ruth Lopert
18 AUG 2015

Failure to reach agreement over expanded intellectual property [IP] protections for medicines has proven to be a stumbling block to completion of the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. As expected, the US is continuing to pressure negotiating partners to adopt broader and longer monopoly protections for medicines. But the risks for their health systems are very high – and will be much higher if they don’t stick together in rejecting the US demands.

A leaked draft of the agreement’s IP chapter from May 2014 showed that, with the exception of Japan, the other countries had been consistent in rejecting the US proposals. But more recently, another leaked draft dated 11 May 2015 and published by Knowledge Ecology International last week demonstrated a splintering of this opposition. Rather than pushing back collectively, individual countries appear to be attempting to craft creative language and qualifying footnotes to give the appearance of conceding to US demands while preserving existing standards where possible.

One could be forgiven for thinking that this might seem like a reasonable outcome. But there are at least five good reasons why this is a risky approach – and why pushing back collectively through the final stages of negotiations would be a wiser strategy.
  1. The US demands are inherently unreasonable. It is widely recognised that the US is seeking monopoly protections that will frustrate and delay access to affordable medicines in countries that are party to the agreement – and due to spillover effects, potentially to others that are not…
  2. Bargaining with the US is risky business. Under pressure from the US, and anxious to secure gains in market access in exchange for apparent concessions on medicines, negotiators seem to be pursuing solutions in creative wording…
  3. Adopting prescriptive obligations in a trade agreement constrains future policy options,even if creative wording averts substantive changes. Tight specification of IP obligations locks countries into existing regimes and prevents the kinds of reforms recommended by the former Australian Government’s Review of Pharmaceutical Patents – such as winding back patent term extensions or reducing effective patent life.
  4. The obligations in the TPP will become the template for the next trade agreement. What countries accept – or appear to have accepted, footnotes and exemptions notwithstanding – will then form part of the standard template for the next trade agreement negotiated by the US…
  5. Developing countries will undoubtedly get the raw end of the deal. Vietnam, as the lowest income country, is likely to be worst affected. While the TPP parties have agreed to a transition period for developing countries, it does not cover all of the pharmaceutical obligations. In the latest leaked draft, earlier proposals for a transition period based on development indicators seem to have been abandoned in favour of a time-based transition…
Danger. Danger. The US PHARMA Lobby is very well heeled. In this case, they’re not after Proprietary Data ownership [I don’t think]. Rather, they’re trying to extend their patent monopoly period. That was originally a maneuver designed to pay them back for developing medications. But increasingly, they’re not even developing them, they’re buying them [see down-right unAmerican…]. And they’re selling them for outrageous prices. This is capitalism at its worst – fleecing the sick. If anyone has any information about this trade agreement, pass it on to the rest of us. This is nothing to be passive about…

UPDATE: Many thanks to Rob Purssey for the jump-start.  I seemed to have missed the obvious by using some too-esoteric search criteria. Using the simple TPP or Trans Pacific Partnership it’s everywhere. Will pick up the thread in the morning. Here’s a starter:
Mad In America
By Erik Monasterio, MD
November 20, 2014
    August 18, 2015 | 10:57 PM

    ERIK MONASTERIO, MD is the psychiatrist writing most cogently on this, see blog post on MIA here – it includes many great references – and simply search “TPP” on the MIA site for many other comments.

    August 18, 2015 | 11:31 PM



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