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AMSA Testifies On TTIP Negotiations

Yesterday, AMSA National President Dr. Nida Degesys testified in front of the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Below are some of her comments that were submitted on behalf of the organization regarding the Administration’s intention to enter into negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement.

As physicians-in-training, we believe that trade agreements should promote public health and access to medicines. For this reason, we urge the exclusion of any and all intellectual property provisions as well as any tobacco and alcohol provisions in the TTIP. Finally, we demand full transparency in the negotiations.

First, during our medical training, we witness firsthand how access to affordable medications is critical in preventing unnecessary deaths due to both infectious and non-communicable diseases. Unfortunately, it appears that recent free trade agreements (FTAs) including the Australia-United States FTA and Korea-United States FTA as well as the current Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations compromise this access by imposing unprecedented TRIPS-plus IP provisions. These provisions have the potential to jeopardize millions of lives in participating countries by granting monopoly protections to pharmaceutical companies, which significantly drive up the costs of medicines. Even in the United States, there has been an outcry from the physician community regarding the high cost of medicines. Just last month, over 100 oncologists agreed that the prices of brand-name cancer drugs is “astronomical, unsustainable, and perhaps even immoral.” The United States health care system has greatly benefitted from generic competition......It is unacceptable that cost as a result of this agreement will become a barrier to access and ultimately, a healthy life.

On behalf of more than 35,000 physicians-in-training, we implore you to ensure that any TTIP agreement ensures our future patients are able to access evidence-based and effective medicines and procedures rather than forcing us to compromise our medical professionalism and the quality of care we provide our patients.

To ensure the TTIP does not compromise access to medicines AMSA is urging the following:

  • Prohibition of “evergreening” or use of minor modifications of existing drugs to extend market exclusivity;
  • Exemption from patent infringement of diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical procedures similar to 35 USC 287(c); 
  • Rejection of any provision to provide data exclusivity for biologics;
  • Removal of intellectual property as an actionable “investment” allowing pharmaceutical and medical device companies to skirt domestic regulation and overturn national public health legislation; and
  • Preservation of existing national pharmaceutical benefit schemes such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Board in Sweden, Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme in the United Kingdom, and the Veteran Health Administration in the United States.

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