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02/15/2016 / By JD Heyes
There certainly will be some winners if the governments of all 12 nations, who have signed on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, wind up ratifying the agreement – but there will be many more losers. Hundreds of millions of them will be losing, in fact: The people.
As noted by Common Dreams, public interest groups have long criticized TPP for its deference to Big Pharma, and newly leaked portions of the agreement appear to bear out this criticism. The leaked documents show how large pharmaceutical companies are using “an aggressive new form of transnational corporatism” to bolster profits at the expense of health worldwide.
Common Dreams reports further:
The TPP’s “Healthcare Annex”–which seeks to regulate government policies around medicines and medical devices–would give big pharmaceutical companies more power over public access to medicine while crippling public healthcare programs around the world and “tying the hands” of the U.S. Congress in its ability to pursue Medicare reform and lower drug costs.
“The Great Treaty is taking shape in complete secrecy, because along with its undebated geostrategic ambitions it locks into place an aggressive new form of transnational corporatism for which there is little public support,” said Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.
The purported aim of the Annex is to facilitate high-quality healthcare but the Annex does nothing to achieve this. It is clearly intended to cater to the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. Nor does this do anything to promote “free trade”: rather it tightly specifies the operation of countries’ schemes for subsidizing pharmaceuticals and medical devices with the aim of providing greater disclosure, more avenues for pharmaceutical industry influence and greater opportunities for industry contestation of pharmaceutical decision making.
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The inclusion of the Healthcare Transparency Annex in the TPP serves no useful public interest purpose. It sets a terrible precedent for using regional trade deals to tamper with other countries’ health systems, and could circumscribe the options available to developing countries seeking to introduce pharmaceutical coverage programs in future.
Negotiated behind closed doors, the TPP would further tie the U.S. economy to those of some Pacific Rim nations as well as Canada, Chile, Japan and Australia. The deal involves nations that comprise some 40 percent of the global economy.
“The leak is just the latest glaring example of why fast-tracking the TPP would undermine the health of Americans and the other countries and cost our government more, all to the benefit of pharma’s profits,” said Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, as quoted by Common Dreams.
U.S. trade representatives and those of the other nations signed the TPP in New Zealand (one of the countries involved in the pact) on February the 4th. The deal now must be approved by Congress before it takes effect.
In June 2015, The New York Times – citing the WikiLeaks documents – reported that the U.S. was altering its stance on drug pricing as they were being negotiated with the framework of the TPP.
“Facing resistance from Pacific trading partners, the Obama administration is no longer demanding protection for pharmaceutical prices under the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the Times reported. “But American negotiators are still pressing participating governments to open the process that sets reimbursement rates for drugs and medical devices.”
Scores of groups ranging from public health professionals to generic drug makers were opposed to TPP because they said it would provide an impetus for Big Pharma to demand higher reimbursement rates in the U.S. and abroad, which would hurt consumers.
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