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?