Sign-on Letter to USTR, be honest about impact of TPP on prices, access to medicines

KEI is circulating a sign on letter to be sent to Ambassador Michael Froman of USTR. We learned that in a USTR has been stating that there was no evidence that stronger intellectual property rules created barriers for access to medicine.

This is a shocking statement for USTR to make, and we are seeking confirmation and clarification of USTR's assertion. The text of our letter follows below.

If you would like to sign on to this letter, please send your name, city and state of residence, and affiliation if any, along with contact details (only for confirmation if necessary), to:

froman-tpp@keionline.org

Please feel free to circulate this widely to interested colleagues or lists. The deadline for signatures is at the end of the day on Wednesday, June 10.

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Dear Ambassador Froman,

There are reports that USTR has been arguing in support of the Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), that there was no evidence that stronger intellectual property rules created barriers for access to medicine.

If this report is true, it is a shocking statement to make at a briefing where the issues relating to pharmaceutical drugs in the TPP were discussed. The vastly unequal access to new medicines is so clearly evident from every conceivable source of data, one has to wonder what type of life the USTR trade officials live, to have never stumbled across such evidence, or reflected for a moment on the consequences of the USTR bilateral pressures against the uses of compulsory licenses on drugs for HIV or cancer. Unless the USTR believes stronger IP does not lead to higher prices, and higher prices do not create access barriers, the briefing was dishonest.

It is one thing for the USTR to advocate for a multitude of measures in the TPP that would expand the number of patents granted, extend the term of patent protection, and create mandates for monopoly on test data for drug registration (among many other measures impacting drug prices), and quite another to deny the obvious, and off-putting fact that these measures will make the unequal access to new drugs worse and not better. An honest man will acknowledge the consequences of his actions.

Sincerely,

(undersigned)