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Details of US Attack on Pharmac in Free Trade

Media Release: Professor Jane Kelsey
Sunday 23 October, 2011

New Leaked Texts Reveal Details of US Attack on Pharmac in Free Trade Talks

The leaking of three further secret texts from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations confirms fears that the US is pushing for rules on healthcare products that would give its pharmaceutical giants new tools to attack national drug buying agencies like Pharmac, Jane Kelsey said today.

The US proposed texts along with critique of their public health implications were posted on the Citizen Trade Campaign website today.

Speaking from Lima where the texts are being negotiated, Washington-based legal expert Professor Sean Flynn describes the proposed Annex on “transparency” that targets drug pricing and reimbursement programmes as “an extreme proposal that regulates public health policy and has no place in a trade negotiation”.

“This proposal is contrary to the demands of democracy, is bad for the development interests of poorer countries, and represents an affront to the best practices in evidence-based health policy, including such practices in the US”.

According to Professor Flynn, the real effect of the US proposal is to advance the pharmaceutical industry’s ultimate goals of a binding international agreement on drug pricing.

“If such an agreement is desired by countries, it should be negotiated in an open forum where public health experts and advocates are well represented, eg. the World Health Organisation.”

The leaked text on transparency strikes at the core of Pharmac, which uses its purchasing power to negotiate affordable prices for medicines.

University of Auckland Law Professor Jane Kelsey describes the combined effect of the three leaked texts as “giving Big PhRMA a platform to wage a war of harassment against Pharmac”.

“The US proposals would allow drug companies to challenge every Pharmac decision as not appropriately recognising the ‘value’ of patents – a dangerous and undefined standard. Adopting this standard would open floodgates of litigation against Pharmac and will ultimately raise medicine prices and ration access.”

“These leaked documents are being discussed at this week’s negotiating round in Lima. Yet again, we see the dangers of secret negotiations that give foreign corporations enormous leverage over our democratic processes and threaten the viability of our health care system”.

Transparency Chapter: Annex on Transparency and Procedural Fairness for Healthcare Technologies, 22 June 2011; US Textual Proposal for the TBT Chapter: Annex on Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical Products and Cosmetic Products; TPP Intellectual Property Rights Chapter (Selected Provisions), September 2011, and analyses can be accessed at http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/blog/2011/10/22/leaked-trans-pacific-fta-texts-reveal-u-s-undermining-access-to-medicine/


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