The US pharmaceutical industry has been shaping elements of the Obama administration’s secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to favor their own profits. But the deal could also could cause the price of prescription drugs and some medical devices to soar on a global scale.
Radio New Zealand reports, “The medical non-government organization, Medicines Sans Frontiers, says it fears the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could push the cost of drugs to prohibitive levels.”
Leaked documents show that US drug companies, who are among the 600 US corporate advisers writing the trade agreement, are trying to extend patents on prescription drugs and prevent competition from less-expensive generic drugs through intellectual property (IP) controls.
If US drug companies get the protections they want in the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, some drug prices are set to rise as much 50 percent, according to a United Nations development study.
A massive increase in drug prices, along with extended IP monopolies on medical devices, like new pacemakers, could make them so expensive that many people could simply not afford them, even if their lives were in the balance.
The secret talks wrapped up their 18th round in Malaysia last week, where more than a dozen protesters were arrested expressing concerns that the TPP deal will give multinational corporations too much power.
“Malaysian activists have staged several protests against the deal, fearing it will compromise the country’s sovereignty and calling on the government to disclose details on the agreement,” according to The Straits Times.
The TPP negotiations were dropped by the George W. Bush administration in 2008 after just three rounds of talks, but were revived in 2009 after Obama took office.
There are currently 12 countries involved in the TPP talks; the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan.
If the deal is signed, it will be the largest trade deal ever negotiated, representing 40 percent of the global economy.
The extreme secrecy surrounding the TPP talks have some US lawmakers worried that they will sign away the sovereign rights of America to multinational corporations, who will exploit workers, cost more than 500,000 US jobs in the textile industry alone, and cause irreparable environmental damage.
Under “investor state” and corporate “stakeholder” provisions, a foreign tribunal can virtually guarantee corporate profits at taxpayers’ expense.
Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida is one of the few members of Congress allowed to see a preliminary draft of the TPP.
After viewing the deal, Grayson told the Washington Times, “It is easy to understand why this NAFTA-style agreement has been kept secret. The TPP is a disturbing attack on American democracy and sovereignty. It puts corporate interests ahead of American interests.”
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Sources and more info:
Obama’s Covert Trade Deal http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/opinion/obamas-covert-trade-deal.html?_r=1&;
Trans-Pacific Partnership rules could block alcohol warnings http://theconversation.com/trans-pacific-partnership-rules-could-block-alcohol-warnings-16279
Concern at push for drug company patents in Pacific trade deal http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=77823
Leaked documents show Obama's secret trade deal threatens US sovereignty http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/14974804-leaked-documents-show-obamas-secret-trade-deal-threatens-us-sovereignty
Japan’s Entry Into Trade Talks Draws Concerns http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/07/23/japans-entry-into-trade-talks-draws-concerns/
Malaysia detains 14 trans-Pacific free trade deal protesters http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking-news/se-asia/story/malaysia-detains-14-trans-pacific-free-trade-deal-protesters-20130720
Concentrated, Privatized Wealth or Shared Prosperity and Economic Democracy? http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/17803-concentrated-privatized-wealth-or-shared-prosperity-and-economic-democracy