By Vicki Needham, The Hill | April 12, 2016
More than 50 public health groups on Tuesday called on Congress to reject a trade agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations because it will block access to affordable medicines.
Led by Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam America, the groups wrote a letter to Congressarguing that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement contains provisions that would undermine public health and in many cases make it more difficult to deliver lifesaving medicines to patients.
The health groups — Health GAP, Alliance for Retired Americans and National Nurses United — say that the TPP would extend the monopolies of pharmaceutical companies, keep drug prices high and prevent medical providers from getting the medicines they need, while blocking the availability of generic drugs in many TPP countries.”In the United States, TPP would tie Congress’s hands, potentially for decades to come, preventing policymakers from having flexibility as they formulate sensible policies to promote access and keep medicines affordable,” the groups wrote.
They said the TPP would take apart public health safeguards and force developing countries to change their laws “to incorporate abusive protections for pharmaceutical companies,” making it harder to obtain affordable medicines.
“Competition has consistently proven the most effective means of reducing prices and ensuring process continue to fall over time,” the letter said.
“As written, the TPP is inconsistent with U.S. domestic health priorities and global health policy,” the groups wrote.
“We urge Congress to reject the TPP as long as these damaging provisions are part of it. The stakes for public health are too high.”