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Thursday, 16 October 2014 07:04

Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Decrease Access to Affordable Cancer Treatment

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atppcancer(Photo: GlobalTradeWatch)

In its analysis of a US-proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provision, Public Citizen found that the corporate profits of Big Pharma would be increased and protected at the expense of providing medical care to people with cancer:

Access to affordable cancer treatments in the U.S and 11 other countries would be delayed for years if terms revealed today in the leaked draft Intellectual Property Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were to go into effect, Public Citizen said. The text, obtained by WikiLeaks, analyzed in collaboration with Public Citizen and released today also shows worrying developments on other patent and copyright issues and explains in part why TPP talks remain deadlocked a month before President Barack Obama’s declared deadline for a deal.

The leak shows our government demanding rules that would lead to preventable suffering and death in Pacific Rim countries, while eliminating opportunities to ease financial hardship on American families and our health programs at home,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program. Public Citizen’s analysis and background information is available at http://www.citizen.org/tpp-ip-wikileaks

Measures in the text, which advantage the patent-based pharmaceutical industry, face stiff opposition from most of the other TPP countries and health care advocates....

The patent protections on drugs and biotechnological advancement used to prolong life for individuals with cancer are being championed on behalf of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries by negotiators for the US government.

There are a plethora of compelling objections to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That our elected government would support policies limiting the availability of cancer treatment in order to make the highly profitable pharmaceutical industry even more profitable is unconscionable.

As BuzzFlash at Truthout noted in a commentary earlier this week, global corporations are protected - in almost all of the ongoing international trade agreements - from national or local laws that would benefit citizens and not the corporate bottom line:

[The TPP is] modeled on NAFTA and its numerous successors - agreements that solidify a global corporate infrastructure that legally empowers behemoth businesses to reshape the economy of the world to suit their needs. This framework includes a little-known provision contained in most international trade agreements, called the protocol for investor-state dispute settlement. In essence, it allows multinational corporations to sue sovereign governments for claimed loss of profits due to national or local laws, such as environmental protections.

Indeed, the fall edition of Communications Workers of America News reports:

Trade agreements like NAFTA and now TPP give foreign corporations veto power over the decisions made by our government and our elected representatives…. More than $430 million in compensation has already been paid out to corporations in cases brought by provisions in trade deals. Another $38 billion is pending in 19 more claims, all related to public health, the environment and other non-trade issues.

Thus, when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the health needs of people are considered secondary to the right to huge profits.

In addition, the proposed patent protection reinforces that wealthy people will be able to afford innovative medical treatment and medication with inflated prices, while people of lesser means will be left without treatment and without recourse.

The patent protections championed by the US in the Trans-Pacific Partnership are another step toward legalizing global corporate governance that further bolsters an international oligarchy.

Last, week Truthout reporter Mike Ludwig reported on how such a merciless strategy is being applied to India by the United States.  If the US is successful in pressuring India to make its patent laws more rigorous, millions of people in developing countries with medical needs - because India supplies low cost drugs to other nations - will be unable to afford generic alternatives to life-saving medication.

In the case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other "free trade" agreements, the outcome will literally determine who shall live and who shall die.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.