‘Damaging’ Provisions On IP Dropped From TPP Agreement, MSF Says

Trade ministers negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the United States have dropped many problematic provisions related to intellectual property and health, Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) reported today. Also removed from the agreement appears to be the investor-state dispute settlement provisions, according to a source.

“Ministers from the eleven countries assessing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal have suspended many of the damaging provisions that would have restricted access to medicines and vaccines, a victory for millions of people who rely on affordable medicines worldwide,” MSF said in a press release.

[Latest update:] The text of the Vietnam ministerial declaration and the list of 20 suspended provisions are available here (IPW, Bilateral/Regional Negotiations, 16 November 2017).

[Update:] An observer in a TPP country confirmed to Intellectual Property Watch that the countries appear to have come to an agreement “in principle” to freeze 20 or so items until such time as the US decided to join back in, if it does. The majority of the provisions are related to intellectual property, and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which allows companies to sue governments for making policy the companies say harm their expectations. Negotiators also are said to have revised the requirements for the agreement to take effect – now with six ratifications. But reports say the agreement is still not finished, with many details remaining. [end update]

After the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, the remaining countries have continued negotiating.

MSF said in its press release:

In the agreement, now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which still has to be finalized, several of the TPP’s damaging intellectual property measures have been suspended. As originally written, the TPP—the worst trade deal ever for access to affordable medicines—would have extended pharmaceutical company monopolies, kept drug prices high, and prevented people and medical treatment providers from accessing lifesaving medicines by blocking or delaying the availability of price-lowering generic drugs in many countries.

This announcement comes after years of pressure from MSF and other public health advocates asking the negotiating countries—currently Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam—to remove terms that would have limited access to affordable versions of lifesaving medicines in countries across the globe.

“MSF and other public health advocates have sounded the alarm on this deal for years. We’re pleased to see that trade ministers heeded these warnings and recognized the TPP’s disastrous implications on affordable medicines and public health in these countries and beyond.

“The TPP trade deal was the worst trade deal ever for access to medicines with expanded intellectual property and other proposals that bolster pharmaceutical monopolies and restrict access to affordable treatments from reaching the people who rely on them to live healthy lives.

“The removal of a number of provisions from the CPTPP that are harmful to people’s access to medicines is a major victory, but this doesn’t mean the fight is over. MSF, ministries of health, and people all over the world continue to struggle with the global crisis of unaffordable lifesaving medicines. Ongoing trade negotiations like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership still include harmful intellectual property proposals that could strengthen and broaden pharmaceutical monopolies, perpetuating and worsening this crisis.

“Instead of protecting pharmaceutical interests, we hope countries consider alternative ways—like those recommended in the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines report—to foster research and development of needed health technologies that are affordable, without trading away the lifesaving medicines we need today.”

—Dr. Els Torreele, executive director of MSF’s Access Campaign



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