Following the Senate vote last week allowing White House trade promotion authority, or “fast-track” authority to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership and future trade deals through Congress without amendment or debate, the House of Representatives will consider the legislation. In the meantime, we’re reading continuing questions surrounding the TPP, and surrounding support for a deal reached behind closed doors.
Trade and Trust – If the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so great, why can’t its defenders sell it on its merits? Paul Krugman lays out arguments the Obama administration has put forward to promote the trade deal, and the issues those arguments don’t address. These include concerns that restrictions on generic competition will keep critical medicines unaffordably expensive, and out of reach in low- and middle-income countries.
Here’s how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill – So without good answers to questions about the TPP, why would senators vote for a bill that takes away a chance to ask more questions? This Guardian article looks at donations from the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP to senators who voted in favor of fast-track authority.
Don’t Trade Away Our Health – If you follow the link to the U.S. Business Coaltion for TPP, you see a list of what the coalition, which includes pharmaceutical manufacturers alongside athletic shoe makers and car companies, says it wants from the agreement. These include “An agreement that adopts the highest standards of intellectual property protection.” You can click on each item to see what it includes. Then you can read this January New York Times Op-ed piece by Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explaining some of the ways the treaty can block affordable generic drugs from the market. To illustrate why that’s a bad thing, he gives the example of Gilead’s $84,000 pricing for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, and a generic version for a little more than 1 percent of that cost.
High Cost of Sovaldi Hepatitis C Drug Prompts a Call to Void its Patents This article details concerns about the cost of the Gilead drug and why activists in middle-income countries are challenging the drug’s patents. The move is being led by the New York-based Initiative for Medicines Access and Knowledge — I-MAK — and you can go to I-MAK’s sofosbuvir page for more information on its grounds for opposing the drugs patents. Among them — “the drug is not new.” In addition, the organization says, “We also believe that it is now time that People Living with HIV and HCV obtain affordable access to the drugs they need.”