Pacific Rim Pack Leaking
A few months ago we ran a small story on the possible effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal currently being negotiated between countries like Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. A recent leak from none other than WikiLeaks has exposed some other controversial effects the deal may promote.
The anti-secrecy group recently published the 94 page draft of the intellectual property section of the trade deal. The draft proposed to enhance patent protection for brand-name medicines in some countries, while making access to generic drugs more difficult. Apparently, the U.S. is negotiating for preserving barriers to generic drugs—possibly to the detriment of developing countries.
The document also indicates that the U.S. is pushing for a “broad definition of copyright infringement and more liability for Internet-service providers to police the Web for such violations…” This will be the largest trade deal the U.S. enters into to date and is in its final stages.
The cause for concern is that the provisions could cause a delay in access to low cost medicines in countries where there is a stronger need. However, the document makes clear that while pharmaceuticals would get marketing exclusivity for their new medicines, generic drug makers could use safety tests conducted by the big pharma companies without facing infringement claims and would be rewarded for successful patent challenges.
Regardless, many argue that the real effect will not be that of Hatch-Waxman in the U.S. (i.e. boost the generics market), but instead will provide companies, like AbbVie (formerly of Abbott Laboratories), with the ability to limit the availability of cheaper drugs to treat diseases like HIV and AIDS. This seems likely as the document contains proposals to increase the term for patents beyond 20 years.
As the terms become finalized, the world will wait to see what these 12 nations agree to and meanwhile speculate on how it may change the individual lifestyles around the Pacific Rim.