What does the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) mean for global aid?

The short answer to this question is very, very bad news.

Why did the government introduce this in the first place?

Obama introduced the TPP as a means to foster a closer alliance between the US and its trading partners in the Pacific whilst simultaneously mounting leverage over China’s stronghold on trade in Asia by excluding China from the partnership. (http://bit.ly/1JFID01).  Obama is also repeatedly claiming that the TPP would engender “thousands of new jobs across the country,” as he declared in May 2015 in a speech at Nike headquarters (http://nyti.ms/1TbIFzQ).

What exactly does the TPP mean for access to medicine?

Even if Obama’s claims about the creation of jobs in the US are true, the costs that this agreement would have on worldwide access to lifesaving medicines are incredibly precarious, long-lasting, and will affect the entire world, not just the US.  A component of the deal is extended patent rights for pharmaceutical industries (http://bit.ly/1L1URQV).  In a nutshell, extended patent rights will enable pharmaceutical companies to legally earn even more financial benefits from the drugs that they create.  This will create a huge barrier for competing drug companies to create generic and cheaper versions of drugs.

Although this is in the name of ‘creating an environment that propagates innovative research,’ a very worrisome result of these extended patent rights is that it will make crucial medicines highly inaccessible, in particular to developing countries, as their prices will just continue to skyrocket.  What’s worse is that this ascend in the prices of lifesaving medicines will seem to be infinite as the pharmaceutical industries will have the right to extend patent rights beyond 20 (!) years (http://bit.ly/1dwZXGK). An economic environment that cultivates innovative research methods needs to be balanced by the right amount of competition, so that the world can have access to these successful medicines.  Yet with the TPP, only a select few countries will have access to such medicines, the countries that need the medicines the most, will not.  Moreover the innovation threshold pharmaceutical companies need to reach in order to obtain patents will be lowered.  Extended patent rights will not only be granted to drugs that work better, but also to simple modifications of existing drugs.  This means that patents will be granted to existing medicines for new dosages or formulations, even if the medicine does not seem to improve the disease in patients (http://bit.ly/1B6VJQZ).

So, what can we do?

GHETS have tweeted about the TPP, so please re-tweet us and spread awareness about the dangerous implications of TPP! Also, if your member of congress has not yet voted, please contact them and urge them to vote NO! Please click on all of the links above to educate yourself more on this pressing issue.

 

Pauline Bagatelas, Rethink Aid Intern

Click on this link to meet the new summer interns at GHETS! —> http://bit.ly/1KqEhZM