Citizen Action Monitor

“Can you bear the cost of $1,000 for a pill to treat Hepatitis C?,” asks WHO Director-General

Margaret Chan is concerned that the TPP may “close the door to affordable medicines,” wondering, “Is this really progress?”

No 1511 Posted by fw, November 14, 2015

Margaret Chan

Margaret Chan

“A massive trade pact between 12 Pacific rim countries could limit the availability of affordable medicines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Thursday, joining a heated debate on the impact of the deal. Margaret Chan told a conference there were ‘some very serious concerns’ about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a central plank of U.S. President Barack Obama’s trade policy which still needs to be ratified by member governments. ‘If these agreements open trade yet close the door to affordable medicines we have to ask the question: is this really progress at all,’ Chan asked a conference in Geneva.”

5,000% Drug Price Jump Sparks Outrage; Turing Pharma CEO Backs Down. Bowing to public pressure, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals reversed a huge price increase for the life-saving drug Daraprim. The price went from $13.50 to $750.00 per pill.

Is this what awaits us if prime minister Trudeau approves the TPP?

Or perhaps you trust BIG PHARMA not to rip you off by raising prices or by limiting your access to cheaper generic drugs. (For more information, click on The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Public Health)

Tell the PM and his trade minister, Chrystia Freeland not to put your health at risk. Reject the TPP. Email them at justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca and Chrystia.Fredland@parl.gc.ca

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Pacific trade deal could limit affordable drugs – world health chief by Tom Miles, Thomson Reuters Foundation, November 12, 2015

GENEVA, Nov 12 (Reuters) – A massive trade pact between 12 Pacific rim countries could limit the availability of affordable medicines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Thursday, joining a heated debate on the impact of the deal.

Margaret Chan told a conference there were “some very serious concerns” about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a central plank of U.S. President Barack Obama’s trade policy which still needs to be ratified by member governments.

“If these agreements open trade yet close the door to affordable medicines we have to ask the question: is this really progress at all,” Chan asked a conference in Geneva.

The deal’s backers, including the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia, say it will cut trade barriers and set common standards across 40 percent of the world’s economy.

But other bodies, including leaders of India’s $15 billion pharmaceuticals industry, have said it could end up protecting the patents of powerful drugs companies inside the deal area, at the expense of makers of cheaper generic drugs outside.

“Can you bear the cost of $1,000 for a pill to treat Hepatitis C?,” Chan asked the audience of health experts, academics and diplomats. “Unless we get these prices down many millions of people will be left behind.”

She said no country in the WHO objected to the private sector making a fair profit, but she was worried about companies influencing decision-making in health policy.

“I worry about interference by powerful economic operators in the new targets for alcohol, tobacco and non-communicable diseases, including many that are diet-related. Economic power readily translates into political power.”

Chan said it was important to find the right balance between encouraging innovation and keeping drugs affordable, but some recent innovations had led to “astronomical” price rises.

U.S. unions, lawmakers and interest groups last week also raised concerns over the text of the deal, setting up a potentially difficult path to ratification by the United States, the biggest of the 12 partners.

U.S. labour representatives said the agreement contained weak, poorly worded or unenforceable provisions.

If ratified, the TPP will be a legacy-defining achievement for Obama and his administration’s pivot to Asia, aimed at countering China’s rising economic and political influence.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by John Stonestreet and Andrew Heavens)

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