Mr. Michael Froman is a Trade Representative of the United State. Together with other 13 representatives, Mr Froman has written a bad trade agreement between US and other countries in the Pacific Area that protects industry interest at the cost of medical practice. Here the letter I wrote to him last week.
Dear Mr Froman,
Few months ago, together with a group of traders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, you sat around a table to define new rules for the market exchange from America to Asia.
Unfortunately, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a non-transparent trade agreement. The trade is between the US and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam. In principle, the partnership promotes the liberalization of the Asia-Pacific economy, and grants the US access to a growing market. But behind the doors, lobbies can promote provisions to the TPP that favor their economic interest at the cost of the free market.
Such things are facts of life. They shouldn’t surprise too much the experienced citizen: the strong parter always get the last word around the table (as the football-stickers market thought me at the elementary school). Protecting your own industry is part of the survival and profit strategy of many capitals.
But sometimes, lobbies get caught with the “hands in the marmalade”: on november 2013, WikiLeaks releases the report of the secret negotiation of the TPP trade representatives, and your signature is at the bottom of the document. And surprise surprise: the report struck the interest of the international medical community.
we are concerned about the specific provisions in the intellectual property, investment and pharmaceutical pricing chapters that will make it harder for patients, governments and treatment providers to access affordable generic medicines in developing countries.
I am writing to urge you, Mr Froman, to withdraw the aggressive provisions in the TPP that will restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of people.
According to the analysis of Reshma Ramachandran and David Carroll from PLoS Blogs, the TPP aims to lower the patents standards, extending the right that the pharmaceutical industry has over its old drugs, preventing the generic formulations to access the market. This will result in uneccessary costs for patients and health care providers.
Moreover, surgical, therapeutic, and diagnostic methods will also be patented among the TPP member states, making doctors liable for infringement of “patented medical procedures”, restricting their choices for treatment.
Too many people already suffer and die because the medicines they need are too expensive or do not exist. We cannot stand by as this proposed agreement threatens to restrict access to care even further.
Through its global health programs, the U.S. has helped millions of people living in developing countries, and continues to invest heavily to end and control some of the world’s most devastating diseases.
I urge you to ensure that the final text of the TPP does not sabotage these efforts and existing programs. Medicines should not be a luxury.
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This letter is inspired by the Doctors Without Borders campaing: