Physicians and Scientists-in-Training Push for Access in TPP Negotiations

August 13, 2017


Sterling, VA—According to recently leaked text of the Intellectual Property Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the United States and other governments are prioritizing multinational corporate profits over patients and consumers around the world including their own citizens. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Australian Medical Student Association, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), IFMSA-Quebec, Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC), and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) today sent a letter to TPP negotiators urging them to ensure that all TPP provisions provide future patients access to evidence-based and effective medicines and procedures rather than forcing us, as practitioners, to compromise our medical professionalism and the quality of care we are able to provide our patients.

On November 13, 2013, WikiLeaks released the entire consolidated negotiating text for the Intellectual Property (IP) Chapter of the TPP. These organizations, representing pharmacists, biomedical researchers, and physicians-in-training from countries participating in TPP negotiations, expressed their concerns regarding the chapter text stating “the proposed provisions will severely restrict access to affordable medicines, access to knowledge, and access to responsible innovation.”

“During our medical training, we witness firsthand the crucial benefit that access to affordable medicines gives to patients,” says Reshma Ramachandran, AMSA PharmFree Chair. “We have repeatedly expressed our concerns that the proposed provisions may compromise this access by imposing unprecedented TRIPS-plus IP provisions. The release of the secret text confirms that the U.S. government and other TPP countries have failed to back down from these dangerous proposals.”

AMSA, Australian Medical Student Association, IFMSA, IFMSA-Quebec, SGAC, and UAEM, believe these negotiating positions will jeopardize millions of lives in TPP participating countries by granting monopoly protections to pharmaceutical companies, driving up the costs of medicines significantly.

“It is unacceptable that cost as a result of this agreement will become a barrier to access and ultimately, healthy lives,” says Dr. Nida Degesys, AMSA National President. “In making medical decisions, we as health professionals are accountable first and foremost to our patients. As our government officials, we ask that when negotiating this agreement, you think of who you are also accountable to – citizens including these same patients and consumers worldwide.”

This week, TPP negotiators are meeting in Salt Lake City to further negotiate the Intellectual Property Chapter provisions. The organizational letter calls for the following:

  • Removal of dispute resolution provisions that will compromise any of the safeguards found in the WTO TRIPS Agreement that allow governments to use its flexibilities to protect public health within their borders
  • Removal of any provisions that would lower the global standards for earning patents including “evergreening” or use of minor modifications of existing drugs to extend market exclusivity
  • Removal of any provision to provide data exclusivity for biologics
  • Exemption from patent infringement of diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical procedures similar to 35 USC 287(c) allowing for medical practitioners to be immunized from a suit particularly when the machine, manufacture or composition of matter itself is not patented
  • Removal of any provision such as patent term adjustments for patent prosecution or regulatory periods that would delay entry of generic drugs into the market, thereby restricting access to affordable medicines.
  • Removal of patent linkage provisions that would cause drug regulatory authorities to take on the additional task of early patent enforcement, allowing for bogus patents to be a barrier to generic drug registration.

Take Action! Even if you’re not a negotiator, you can still take action to make sure that the TPP prioritizes patients over profit.Click here to join Doctors Without Borders in sending letters to the United States Trade Representative Michael Forman and to spread the word about the TPP’s harmful provisions with some sample Tweets and Facebook posts.

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org.