Statement of KEI on announcement of consensus on Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement

Statement of KEI on announcement that there is a consensus on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement
October 5, 2015, 10am, EST

These comments by James Love, KEI Director

“The announcement that there is a consensus on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement comes before the negotiating partners have published the text of a single chapter. What we know about the intellectual property, drug reimbursement and investment texts comes from previous leaked versions of the negotiating text, and suggests that the agreement will be an unprecedented assault on national sovereignty, consumer rights, and access to medicines. The Obama Administration’s most important objective in this negotiation was to raise the prices for drugs, vaccines and medical devices, worldwide, and they have no doubt achieved that objective, albeit not to the degree that meets every single one of the pharmaceuticals and medical device company asks.

“The agreement was reached under rules set by the Obama Administration that allowed hundreds of corporate representatives to have access to the negotiating text, while freezing out the public. The asymmetry of access was enabled by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, specialized trade press and the vast majority of the working news media outlets who have spent years not questioning or even reporting on this highly controversial and obviously harmful policy of undermining informed participation of consumer interests.

“We are at a disadvantage to comment on the agreement, precisely because of that secrecy. We don’t know if the TPP will mandate a copyright term of life plus 70 years, change the global rules on copyright exceptions, block legislation to limit remedies for the infringement of orphan copyrighted works, require lower standards for granting patents, mandate patents on new uses of old drugs, require patent term extensions, block current U.S. incentives to induce greater transparency of the patent landscape for biologic drugs, mandate remedies for the infringement of patents on surgical methods, block the adoption of useful exceptions to test data, allow drug companies and publishers to challenge exceptions to rights under the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in the agreement, or a hundred other issues of consequence.

“Ambassador Froman has yet to give a date for when the general public can see the text, despite the fact that he and his staff have been giving real time updates to drug companies, publishers, and other politically active industries. The anti-democratic nature of this deal, and the unequal ability between corporate and public interests to influence the outcome of the agreement will be a significant element of President Obama’s legacy, as will the new norms to increase drug prices worldwide, and the many other harmful provisions that we expect to see, once the text is finally shared with the public.

“The process for and the substance of this agreement illustrate the massive power and influence of large corporations, and the corporate influence on the news organizations that have largely failed to report critically on either, for more than five years.

“Once the text is released, the profound influence of the agreement on a wide range of non-tariff issues will become more clear, including issues relating to regulation, intellectual property rights and pricing and reimbursement for goods and services.

“It is our understanding that the text of the TPP is, in fact, not completely finished. Many of the loose ends are important. We call upon USTR to publish the current version of the negotiating text, right now, so that the general public can provide feedback and address some of the outstanding issues, many of which are technical and benefit from more transparency. But above all, why give PhRMA, BIO and the MPAA members special access to this process, when the people who elected the Obama Administration, twice, are left out.