AIDS Activists Challenge Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement That Will Strengthen Drug Company Monopolies and Undermine Access to Medicines Worldwide
NEW YORK - As a controversial trade deal—the Trans-Pacific Partnership—enters the latest round of negotiations in New York City, Health GAP will join hundreds of trade, labor, environmental, and health activists to protest the devastating impact the deal would have on access to affordable generic medicines. If passed, the TPP would create a trade zone between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. Activists will gather at 12:00pm EST at the site of negotiations, the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel at 811 7 th Avenue and West 53 St.
These talks are billed as the “final negotiations” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal so secret that not even members of Congress are allowed to see the text. Among other concerns, activists claim that the TPP will undermine efforts to ensure access to affordable medicines at home in the United States and around the world.
Previously leaked proposals revealed that the US seeks easier-to-get, stronger, and longer patent monopolies on medicines and new monopolies on drug regulatory data that would prevent marketing of more affordable generic equivalents. It also seeks restrictions on price control measures and enhanced investor rights that would allow drug companies to sue governments when their expectations of exorbitant profits are undermined by otherwise lawful government policies and decisions. These are among the most severe intellectual property rules ever demanded in international trade.
“The TPP would create a vicious cycle. The provisions currently proposed will allow for fracking and other practices that fuel environmental degradation and make people sick. Strengthened intellectual property rules will then prevent people from accessing life- saving medicines,”, said Michael Tikili of Health GAP, one of the endorsers of the demonstration. “Thirteen million people living with HIV depend on generic AIDS medicines and another 20-plus million are waiting line for treatment. By protecting Pharma’s bloated profits, the Obama administration is undermining its own global AIDS initiative – this isn’t a trade agreement—it’s a death pact.”
Opposition to the TPP is growing both among the American public and in the Democratic delegation to Congress which is reluctant to grant the President the fast- track trade promotion authority asked for in his recent State of the Union address. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s no track for fast track,” said Professor Brook K. Baker, senior policy analyst for Health GAP. “Congress shouldn’t give a blank check authorization for continued secret negotiations, with limited debate, and only an up or down vote at the end of the line,” he explained. “Too many jobs, too many
environmental risks, and too many people needing affordable medicines in the US and abroad will be adversely impacted by IP rights that benefit only pharmaceutical behemoths and the super-rich who own them.”
With growing momentum for finalizing the agreement this year, demonstrators demand a truly new trade policy that protects health, environmental, and labor rights and that allows governments to pursue prudent measures to protect their economies, their health, and their environments.
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