New Zealand Prime Minister Admits Drug Prices Will Rise Under TPP -- Leaves Out The Part About More People Dying

from the gotta-help-out-those-corporate-interests dept

As we're in the middle of crunch time for the final TPP negotiations, New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key has finally admitted what many experts have been saying for years -- that under the TPP, drug prices will undoubtedly rise, because it extends monopoly protections on important medicines. Key tries to play this off as no big deal, because it's the government paying for the medicine so the public won't notice (leaving aside the fact that it's their tax dollars). However, folks who actually understand basic economics note that, when the price goes up, access to drugs gets more difficult even in New Zealand, where it's noted that some key life saving drugs have not been made available because they're too expensive. One doctor in New Zealand talked about how other expensive drugs are not available:
He said 300 people died of malignant melanoma each year. Patients would benefit from using the new drug but it cost $100,000 to $200,000 annually for each person. In total that would cost the drug-buying agency Pharmac $30 million to $60 million a year.

Dr Fitzharris said that under TPP it was likely getting access to these new, more effective drugs would be delayed even further.

Medicines New Zealand says the most recent OECD report shows New Zealand comes last out of 20 countries when it comes to access to new medicines.
Back in the US, even a bunch of Congresscritters who voted in favor of giving the USTR fast track authority appear to be having a bit of buyer's remorse as they've asked the USTR to explain why it appears the current draft of the TPP will make drugs more expensive rather than less.
We are concerned that the TPP would fail this scrutiny if it does not meet or exceed the standards set under the May 10th Agreement, reached by House Democrats and the Bush White House in 2007, with respect to timely access to affordable medicines in developing countries.
And even the AARP has stepped in to point out that it appears the TPP is going to make it more difficult for the US elderly to afford drugs:
Specifically, AARP objects to intellectual property provisions in the draft TPP agreement that unduly restrict competition by delaying consumers’ access to lower-cost generic drugs. These anticompetitive provisions include extending brand drug patent protections through “evergreening” drug products that provide little to no new value and prolong high prescription drug costs for consumers, linking approval to market generic or biosimilar drugs to existing patents in a way that protects only brand drugs, and increasing data exclusivity periods for biologics that further delays access by other companies to develop generic versions of these extremely high-cost drugs. These provisions are all designed to ensure monopoly control by brand-name drug companies.
How can the USTR and the Obama administration continue to insist that the TPP is in the public interest when it's abundantly clear that it's in the pharmaceutical companies' interests instead?

Filed Under: access to medicine, biologics, drugs, medicine, new zealand, prices, tpp, trade agreements


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 11:25am

    Empty words and money filters

    Back in the US, even a bunch of Congresscritters who voted in favor of giving the USTR fast track authority appear to be having a bit of buyer's remorse

    Utterly meaningless posturing. If they cared what was in the thing, they shouldn't have voted for the bill that forces them to accept or decline it in it's entirety, no matter how bad certain sections are.

    It's safe enough for them to raise 'objections' now, pretending to care about the public and how it could be affected now that it's a moot point, but if they actually cared they wouldn't have signed over their control in the first place.

    How can the USTR and the Obama administration continue to insist that the TPP is in the public interest when it's abundantly clear that it's in the pharmaceutical companies' interests instead?

    Simple enough, and it's due to two reasons:

    1. None of the MSM have the guts or independence to actually call either group out by pointing out just how bad the 'trade' agreement will be for everyone but a select few. You can tell whatever lies you want, no matter how blatantly false they are, if you know the general public will never know you're lying, or will only learn about it when it's too late.

    2. Neither Obama nor the USTR care how bad the thing is for the general public. Why would they, neither have anything to lose no matter how nasty things get for the public thanks to it, and the ones that stand to gain will likely be very generous to those that helped them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:22pm

      Re: Empty words and money filters

      ...they shouldn't have voted for the bill that forces them to accept or decline it in it's entirety, no matter how bad certain sections are...

      That was fast track authority, not the actual treaty. Yes, it's still bad the way it was done. AFAIK the US Senate would still have to ratify the actual treaty by 2/3 vote for it to have legal force in the US.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 2:17pm

      Re: Empty words and money filters

      Yep, Ted Cruzes original support of TPP damaged his reputation with me.

      Now I might just vote for Trump just to fucking piss both sides of the isle off... and if this clown wins... its not like anything will get worse. Any of the biggest front runners are total dirt deserving of some special treatment at gitmo.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2015 @ 10:11am

      Re: Empty words and money filters

      and it's a miracle how every politician gives us the same exact mantra. They vote for an unpopular bill when it's their turn to vote and then, after the fact, they apologize saying that they are man enough to admit that they made a mistake and have learned from their mistakes. Because it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Yeah ... I'm not buying it (and you don't get my forgiveness).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2015 @ 10:42am

        Re: Re: Empty words and money filters

        and I've mentioned that one of the reasons this bill passed could be partly because politicians gave us the false illusion it wasn't going to pass earlier on which reduced public resistance against it.

        Then another crazy conspiracy theory thought crossed my mind. Though I highly doubt it's the case it's at least worth mentioning for future reference. Various blogs (such as Techdirt) indirectly have a vested interest in ensuring such bills pass because it gives them something to talk about once the fallout happens ...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:00pm

    It's worse than that in NZ

    It gets worse for people in NZ. What John Key is talking about is Pharmac drugs. Pharmac is the government agency that buys drugs on the nations behalf and subsidises those drugs when they are proscribed here. If the cost goes up the government will indeed use tax dollars to make sure the subsidised costs remain the same. However not all drugs are available via Pharmac. The people using those have to pay the full costs. The TPP will not only increase prices it will affect when drugs become more cheaply available.

    It seems that in the negotiations (which we of course know little about) that NZs primary concern is dairy and meat exports. Unfortunately NZ has nothing to bargain with here. They want more access overseas but they have nothing to give in return. Import tariffs are already low, the whole country is ripe for foreign investment already, the government already bends over and spreads their cheeks any time the US government tells them too.

    Unfortunately your average NZer is about as concerned about this as all those thousands of sheep we are trying to export. Current focus isn't on the TPP, it's on what bloody new flag the country wants.

    They are having a referendum on that but the TPP, which if passed will involve many changes to NZ law, must all be done in secret.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:43pm

      Re: It's worse than that in NZ

      The flag 'debate' is a well timed distraction.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Aug 2015 @ 7:10am

      Re: It's worse than that in NZ

      The reason they aren't having the referendum on the TPP is because they know that public opinion is sketchy at best, and so will most likely be voted out because of it. The whole flag thing is stupid too, since >80% of people actually don't want a change. Basically this is just John Key trying to run the country like a business, and failing, and like a business, it's the common men and women (us) who will bear the brunt of it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:02pm

    a trade deal designed to steal from the 99% to enrich the 1% even more.

    It's only poor people that are going to die after all, they don't care for those unless they can exploit them and steal their wealth for themselves

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    metalliqaz (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:16pm

    The TPP is going to pass and there's nothing I can do to stop it :(

    This is a direct attack on democracy. Where are those 2nd amendment guys now? This is what they've been waiting for!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:29pm

    Fascism killed tens of millions
    Communism killed hundreds of millions
    Globalist cronyism will kill billions if nothing's done about it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 31 Jul 2015 @ 12:22am

      Re:

      Globalist cronyism will kill billions if nothing's done about it.

      It's already doing that. Take a look at who controls the means of agricultural production and mining in poor countries. Then figure out why the people in such countries do not have the means to actually buy the produced food and products.

      Genetically modified food will allow us to increase agricultural production world-wide that is owned by US, US, US. Trade agreements will make sure we can siphon it all off without significant percentages of the proceeds remaining in the country of origin.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, 30 Jul 2015 @ 1:41pm

    How can the USTR and the Obama administration continue to insist that the TPP is in the public interest when it's abundantly clear that it's in the pharmaceutical companies' interests instead?

    Because they have already cashed the check.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    A Secret Weapon., 30 Jul 2015 @ 2:33pm

    We have discovered what is possibly the only weapon possible to stop this, old people. The largest group who consistently vote and constitute the largest lobbying group, the AARP. If anyone has a realistic chance of stopping this crap from occuring it is them. Along with writing congressmen, visit your parents, grandparents, Wal-Mart greeters and other members of the aged community and have them do what they have time to do, complain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    KRA, 30 Jul 2015 @ 2:45pm

    US citizens pay more

    The US consumer finances a lot of new drug development, both through taxes (Bayh-Dole Act) and in higher prices paid for prescriptions. Higher US drug prices are due in part to caps placed on prices by other countries and in part to the long and costly approval process for new drugs in the US. Other countries allow drugs to get to market more quickly and without so much testing (think thalidomide...) and so drug companies start making money sooner. High costs are also, of course, due to quarterly goals and obscene profit margins.

    According to this source, New Zealanders pay about a third of what Americans pay. Great for them, not great for the US consumer.

    If the TPP actually spread the cost, and thereby lowered the cost to the US consumer, I might at least see the US interest here. With a privatized congress and White House, something tells me that's not the case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 6:01pm

      Re: US citizens pay more

      "According to this source, New Zealanders pay about a third of what Americans pay. Great for them, not great for the US consumer."

      It's not a zero sum game.

      New Zealand, with a population of ~4.5M (so, smaller than L.A., New York, San Francisco, Detroit) has engaged in collective bargaining on pharmaceutical products via a government agency. Even at that scale, it's been effective, to the point somebody driving TPP policy is looking to squash it because it's such a great example.

      You're paying twice again what Kiwis do for the same product which is still likely covering costs.

      You could be doing this too. You SHOULD be doing this too. Why aren't you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        KRA, 30 Jul 2015 @ 6:23pm

        Re: Re: US citizens pay more

        You could be doing this too. You SHOULD be doing this too. Why aren't you?


        Because our representatives, D and R, are corporatist scum?

        And now I've perused this which refutes my entire last post, and states that the US consumer is not, in fact, bankrolling pharmaceutical research and that's just a lie industry tells us.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 31 Jul 2015 @ 8:42am

        Re: Re: US citizens pay more

        "You could be doing this too. You SHOULD be doing this too. Why aren't you?"

        The US government is legally barred from engaging in that sort of collective bargaining.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Clementine (profile), 31 Jul 2015 @ 7:26pm

      Re: US citizens pay more

      "Higher US drug prices are due in part to caps placed on prices by other countries"
      complete bollox. prices are higher in the US because US politicians dont have balls to stop taking pharma $ and regulate prices. prices in other countries have zero impact on US prices. they charge what the market will bear. wake up for heaven's sake

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 3:58pm

    'How can the USTR and the Obama administration continue to insist that the TPP is in the public interest?

    it cant because it never was. the more important question, surely, is why are Congress Members coming out now when they ignored everything about what was going to happen? on top of that, why are the 'public interest' groups being completely ignored, why are the entertainment industries now being allowed to put in further copyright laws and regulations that are much more restrictive than the restrictive ones already in the document and what did the members of congress get for voting the fast track through anyway? they didn't do it for no reason, so it had to be for personal gain. therefore, do they expect to remain/regain in their present positions at the next election?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 4:08pm

    key is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard! how the hell anyone voted for him, i dont know, let alone give him this job! useless doesn't even cut it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 4:16pm

    Small Point of Form

    Congress[man/woman/person/critter] isn't a title of office and shouldn't be capitalized. You might substitute Senatard or Represhitheel if you insist on a proper title.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 5:25pm

    If you can't afford it, do without! That's what I've ALWAYS been saying.

    >>> If this means there are less people to make cat videos and silly video games, ALL the better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 5:39pm

      Re: If you can't afford it, do without! That's what I've ALWAYS been saying.

      The "it" you are referring to happens to be life-saving drugs. So in essence, you're quoting Scrooge: "If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Jul 2015 @ 11:52pm

      Re: If you can't afford it, do without! That's what I've ALWAYS been saying.

      "If you can't afford it, do without! That's what I've ALWAYS been saying.

      >>> If this means there are less people to make cat videos and silly video games, ALL the better."

      ...and what exactly did that have to do with the drugs mentioned in the article, where if people "go without" they die?

      Let me guess, you're one of our resident morons and couldn't find a way to attack Google, so you pretended this was about entertainment instead of the subject of the actual words in the article?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2015 @ 4:37am

        Re: Re:

        Dumb caption, capitalizing random words, using punctuation for useless emphasis? It's out_of_the_blue, being his usual retarded corporatist self.

        Report and move on.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2015 @ 5:52pm

    Drug companies making the government force it's own people to pay the drug companies.

    Man would it be great if we can have the government make it's people pay us for our products? While making the same government allow us to have a monopoly. Cha Ching.

    What if other cell phone, television, computer, etc companies tried this.

    We can not opt out of this TAX.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 30 Jul 2015 @ 10:03pm

    Man, you don't get it.

    How can the USTR and the Obama administration continue to insist that the TPP is in the public interest when it's abundantly clear that it's in the pharmaceutical companies' interests instead?

    People die, corporations are forever. Everything you do for humans will eventually be wasted. So it does not make sense to prefer the people's good over that of the corporations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2015 @ 1:24am

    Tpp is a Total attack on democracy on countrys ability to make laws re patents ,drug pricing ,consumer food standards ,environmental protection ,
    its little to do with trade ,
    more with lets nad over power to big corporations ,
    and screw the public .
    It also brings in more net censorship against corporate whistleblowers .
    ITS a big fuck you to eu consumers with isds,
    the eu has an advanced legal system to protect .
    investors .
    WE have already seen the usa mostly ignore other countrys laws ,,when it wants to .
    will some small european company be able to sue a us state and claim billions for
    say imaginary potential lost profits if a eu mining company wants to drill for oil in a national park near a river
    .
    isds is completely unnecessary .
    The usa wants to route round the health food safety regulations ,
    the eu does not allow chemicals or hormones in meat or food sold to the public as the usa does to increase company profits .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2015 @ 6:20am

    Drug pricing is an interesting study. There are new drugs that now cure Hep C, not treat it, cure it. Of course, it costs over $85K.

    There is also a generic drug (BCG) that is the best treatment for bladder cancer. Without it, people will die. It is generic so it only costs about $140 and any company can manufacture it. It is in very short supply because companies don't want to manufacture it because they can't make much profit. People will probably die because they can't get BCG.

    Oh, and there are also about 264 other generic drugs in very short supply here in the U.S. that treat many things.

    These things are facts. Can't be argued about. Investment chases return. You can't ignore basic economic facts.

    What needs to be determined is how much profit is appropriate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2015 @ 6:30am

    Anyone that things drug prices here in the US will go down if other countries pay more are taking too many drugs.

    What happens when the Yankees get tax money to build a new stadium? They raise the price. Did ticket prices go down when the Mets axed their payroll? No, of course not.

    Any gains become pure profit. No price reductions will happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2015 @ 8:51am

    It is all a matter of who pays what.

    Medicaid doesn't engage in collective bargaining, it just makes it illegal to sell a drug at a lower price to anyone else.

    California is being sued by consumers because they won't cover certain drugs.

    We already do have a socialist medical system here in the US, as the government is the biggest payer, even before Obamacare.

    It all comes down to who pays what.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 5 Aug 2015 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      If you had a socialist medical system in the USA, nobody would fall through the cracks, everyone would receive treatment free of charge at the point of delivery. This is manifestly not the case.

      The Affordable Care Act is a boondoggle for the insurance companies but they're not allowed to refuse to insure people with pre-existing conditions.

      While I'm not a great lover of socialism even a stopped clock is right twice a day and the NHS is an example of that being true. Socialist or not, it does the job and costs less per person than yours does. Let's stop being afraid of -isms and make use of those policies that actually work in practice instead of condemning them out of hand because some fool has labelled it with a word that frightens us. It's only a word.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr Big Content, 2 Aug 2015 @ 6:27pm

    This Could Never Happen In Teh USA

    Our freedoms are safe, not like in these foreign places. You know why? Because of teh Second Amendment. The Government knows, if it ever tried to trample on any of our IMPORTANT rights, our guns would be out and trained on them like a ton of bricks.

    So don't sweat teh small stuff. We can sleep safe at night, with that ultimate guaranter of our rights close at hand, under that pillow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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