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Public health advocates and patients gathered in Atlanta this week to protest the TPP's potential impacts on access to medicine. (Photo: FlushtheTPP/Twitter)

New Leak of Final TPP Text Confirms Attack on Freedom of Expression, Public Health

"The monopolist pharmaceutical industry has won a lot with the TPP, at the expense of people's health," says Public Citizen.

Deirdre Fulton

Offering a first glimpse of the secret 12-nation "trade" deal in its final form—and fodder for its growing ranks of opponents—WikiLeaks on Friday published the final negotiated text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)'s Intellectual Property Rights chapter, confirming that the pro-corporate pact would harm freedom of expression by bolstering monopolies and injure public health by blocking patient access to lifesaving medicines.

The document is dated October 5, the same day it was announced in Atlanta, Georgia that the member states to the treaty had reached an accord after more than five years of negotiations. 

Aside from the WikiLeaks publication, the vast majority of the mammoth deal's contents are still being withheld from the public—which a WikiLeaks press statement suggests is a strategic move by world leaders to forestall public criticism until after the Canadian election on October 19.

Initial analyses suggest that many of the chapter's more troubling provisions, such as broader patent and data protections that pharmaceutical companies use to delay generic competition, have stayed in place since draft versions were leaked in 2014 and 2015.

Moreover, it codifies a crackdown on freedom of speech with rules allowing widespread internet censorship.

"The text of the TPP's intellectual property chapter confirms advocates' warnings that this deal poses a grave threat to global freedom of expression and basic access to things like medicine and information," said Evan Greer, campaign director for the digital rights group Fight for the Future. "The contents of the TPP's IP chapter were bought and paid for by Hollywood and the pharmaceutical industry before the negotiations even began."

Noting that the leak comes the morning after pharmaceutical executives walked out of a White House meeting because they were "dissatisfied" that the deal did not provide them even greater monopoly rights, Public Citizen's Burcu Kilic scoffed: "The monopolist pharmaceutical industry has won a lot with the TPP, at the expense of people’s health. They should stop crying crocodile tears."

In particular and with limited exceptions, as an analysis by Public Citizen notes (pdf), "all TPP countries—regardless of level of development, poverty or wealth—will be required to adopt the TPP's pharmaceutical IP rules."

So-called "transition periods," the analysis continues, "are too short to expect that countries will be substantially more able to absorb the rules' impact than they are today. There is little reason to believe that these rules would actually be good for the people residing in TPP countries, even after the transition periods allowed."

And even in the U.S., where similar rules are already in place, "the high prices of medicines—bolstered by TPP-style monopolistic protections—have led to treatment rationing, prescriptions going unfilled and severe budgetary strains," Public Citizen concludes.

"If the TPP is ratified, people in Pacific Rim countries would have to live by the rules in this leaked text," said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen's Global Access to Medicines program.

Put simply, he added: "The TPP would cost lives."


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