US trade policy putting public health at risk
- 340.07 KB
Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement to exacerbate Vietnam’s access to medicines crisis
The United States is again pursuing an important free trade agreement that will lock in high drug prices out of poor people’s reach – this time across the Asia-Pacific region, warns international agency Oxfam.
Talks resume in Singapore this week for the ‘Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement’ (TPPA). The US is again insisting that countries must take on strict intellectual property protection and drug pricing rules when they sign the deal.
Oxfam believes this will harm their ability to effectively negotiate prices with the world’s big drug companies. For a county like Vietnam that already struggles to keep up with high medicine prices, the TPPA could be devastating.
Dire consequences for millions of people
Oxfam spokesperson Rohit Malpani said: “The US proposals will have dire health consequences across Asia and Latin America. Millions of people are already struggling to find affordable medicines. These rules could price medicines out of reach for future generations too.”
In the past ten years, the US has consistently demanded in these trade negotiations that poor countries should introduce measures that will increase medicine prices.
In particular, the US wants rules that either interfere with basic, WTO-sanctioned safeguards that allow a country to override patent monopolies in order to protect public health, or rules that extend the monopoly for a medicine beyond twenty years, and so delay cheaper generic competition from entering the market.
Malpani said: “The US is putting the interests of the drug industry above those of public health. It needs to reconsider this approach because it undermines the sustainability of public health-care programs and discredits trade itself as a tool for poverty reduction.”
Vientamese already struggling to pay for health care
In Vietnam, government officials, experts and civil society groups are already worried about the possible impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement on medicine prices. Patients in Vietnam already pay 72% of their medicine costs.
Thousands more people could be pushed into poverty there. They will have to choose between medicines and other basic necessities, or forego treatment altogether. Many drugs for diseases including HIV and AIDS, cancer and hepatitis B and C are already too expensive for most people there.
The TPPA also comes at a bad time for efforts to provide universal treatment to HIV and AIDS. Up to 170,000 people still require basic treatment in Vietnam and thousands more will soon need new, patented anti-retroviral medicines as they will develop resistance to their current treatments. The US proposals will increase these medicine costs too.
To make matters worse, the US – which currently finances more than half of the country’s HIV and AIDS treatment budget – may pull this funding in 2015.
Malpani said: “At a time at which both the government and patients in Vietnam are struggling to pay for medicines, a trade agreement that will make medicines more expensive is unacceptable. The US should be investing in programs that will foster a sustainable health system in Vietnam, not driving thousands of patients into poverty and poor health.”
Notes to Editors
More on Oxfam's Health and Education For All Campaign
For further inquiry, please contact:
+1 202 496 1173
+1 202 321 2967
Photo of the wk: Young Ahmed holds the keys to 1 of 48 new wash blocks, Zaatari camp #Jordan http://t.co/qOs5BOPh63 #Syria #refugees21 hours 56 min ago
1000s homeless again, searching for safety as violence erupts again in eastern #DRC http://t.co/C3cLwXNit3 $1bn WorldBank aid pledge23 hours 16 min ago
UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference: Good, but needs to go further http://t.co/Hm54O1EsXT #GPDRR13 #drr @UNDP @unisdr @odi_development1 day 21 min ago
European #taxhavens are 2/3 of the $150 billion tax loss problem http://t.co/jax7i3jVsd #G8 #taxdodging #transparency1 day 2 hours ago
Thx @Food_Tank! Proud 2b in 40 Orgs Shaking Up the Food System list @IFADnews @millenniuminst @OneAcreFund @ONECampaign @rocunited @FAOnews1 day 4 hours ago
RT @oxfamgb: Good news of £30m extra funding from @DFID_UK for #Syria. Still need more aid from others & big push for a peace. http://t.co/…1 day 4 hours ago
US pushes Europe to amend arms #embargo on Syrian rebels http://t.co/B8KYe8VNQn #SyriaCrisis @StateDept @WilliamJHague @eu_eeas @OxfamEU1 day 4 hours ago
+80,000 ppl have been killed & several million displaced since the #SyriaCrisis began; #EU must extend arms embargo http://t.co/JlpzH9egf71 day 5 hours ago
RT @Katie_Nguyen1: Another arresting headline from @katymigiro 'Chips for sex: Oxfam explores the lives of #Kenya’s hungry millions' http:…1 day 5 hours ago
RT @liviafirth: 1 empowered woman can spark a positive change for her whole community @Oxfam @thecircle_oxfam #SparksthatFly @eco_age1 day 6 hours ago
RT @Karl_Schembri: #Syria children nxt to newly installed water tap outside 1 of 48 new wash blocks by @Oxfam in #Zaatari Camp, #Jordan htt…1 day 6 hours ago
The #ArmsTreaty can create a safer future for millions, but first it needs signatures. Urge the US to sign! http://t.co/4YUsIawus71 day 8 hours ago
#EU foreign ministers must bite the bullet & extend the arms #embargo on #Syria http://t.co/rL80yARiSt #SyriaCrisis #ArmsTreaty1 day 14 hours ago
RT @OxfamIreland: Ireland pledges €2.5 million in aid to Mali to contribute to reconstruction http://t.co/wvUzsRsHoD via @IrishTimes #Mal…1 day 22 hours ago
As @UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference ends, worth checking #GPDRR13 for great tweets from @unisdr @UNOCHA @Federation et al1 day 22 hours ago