TPP May Be Dead but Big Pharma’s Still Getting Away with Murder

A pharmacy employee looks for medication as she works to fill a prescription while working at a pharmacy in New York.
By: Vijay Das |Source: Telesur
For every trade advancement in the name of improving public health and access to essential medicines, Big Pharma counters.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership may officially be dead yet a looming free trade battle remains in the Pacific Rim.

This month the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership concluded its 17th round of talks. RCEP is a five-year-old proposed trade agreement between 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, like India, China, and Laos and six states, like Japan and Australia, that have existing free trade agreements in the region. It’s essentially comprised of TPP nations, without the Americas and the United States. Continue reading

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Scaling up treatment of HCV in various Indian states

According to the WHO, India is a high burden country for HCV and has about 12-18 million chronically infected patients, most are unaware of their infection status and a third of whom will develop liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma, which can lead to death. In the absence of any national level public health program to combat HCV, state government are running programs to ensure better access to diagnosis and treatment.  Continue reading

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US Bill on drug prices: Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act


A bill on drug prices has been introduced in US Congress to bring down prescription drug prices.

The Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act aims to ensure that drug companies put patients before profits and bring relief to families and seniors, including many who have had to make the impossible choice between paying for a life-saving drug and putting food on the table. Continue reading

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Compulsory licensing in Colombia: Leaked documents show aggressive lobbying by Novartis

Novartis has threatened Colombia with international investment arbitration to avoid the issuance of a compulsory license.* The Swiss pharma giant is also turning to Colombian courts in an attempt to kill the price reduction imposed by the authorities over its cancer blockbuster Glivec. Both of these moves are confirmed by confidential documents obtained by Public Eye.

Leaked letters (PDF, 3.2 MB) to the Ministry of Trade and Industry show how Novartis threatened to resort to international investment arbitration for an alleged violation of the Swiss-Colombian bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which was signed by both countries in 2006. This undemocratic procedural mechanism, better known as Investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS), forms part of many trade agreements and allows an investor from one country to bring a case directly against the country in which they have invested before a private international arbitration tribunal, without going through local courts first. This threat has undoubtedly influenced the decision of the Colombian health authorities to stop short of pursuing a compulsory license, focusing only on a price reduction.

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Hepatitis drug patent application opposed

A health advocacy group voiced its opposition Tuesday to a patent application for hepatitis C medicine, Sofosbuvir, filed with the Department of Intellectual Property’s Patent Office, which the group said was unjustified.

If approved, the drug patent would bar fair competition by precluding the development and distribution of generic versions of Sofosbuvir at lower prices, said a group of 30 activists led by the Aids Access Foundation and Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids. Continue reading

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India Loses Faith in Trade

APRIL 9, 2017 6:00 PM

By Mihir Sharma | Bloomberg

Till fairly recently, it looked like two massive new agreements would compete to define the future of world trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, backed by the U.S., would try to move the global trade architecture toward new norms, with harmonized regulations at its center. Meanwhile, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, backed by China, would drastically reduce remaining tariffs across a swathe of Asia and push the existing model of trade and manufacturing as far as it could go. Continue reading

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Eli Lilly’s ISDS Patent Claim against Canada Defeated

In an unprecedented case, Eli Lilly initiated an amended investor-state-dispute-settlement (ISDS) claim against the government of Canada in 2013 after Canada’s highest courts upheld invalidations on new therapeutic use patents for two chemical compounds – olanzapine and atomoxetine, the active pharmaceutical ingredients of Strattera and Zyprexa respectively. The courts had ruled that Canada’s well established “promise utility doctrine” was not satisfied because the evidence provided by Eli Lilly at the time of its patent applications did not support the new therapeutic uses claimed.  Eli Lilly filed its ISDS claim under the investment clause of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and sought CA$ 500 million in compensatory damages for past and future lost profits. Continue reading

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