Negotiators from the United States and 10 other countries last month concluded a 14th round of private talks in Leesburg, Va., "to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, poised to become the largest trade deal in U.S. history," the Charlotte Observer reports. The talks "involve a tussle over how far to go to protect intellectual property rights and, with them, the finances of brand-name drug companies," according to the newspaper, which adds, "If drug companies get their way in protecting brand-name drugs in a new international trade deal, critics say, millions of AIDS patients in poor countries will go untreated, losing access to cheaper generic drugs that could keep them alive."
"Drug makers say they need to protect their industry, which supports four million U.S. jobs, and their investment in research," the newspaper notes, adding, "Opponents say more generic drugs are needed for the global fight against AIDS. Fattening the profits of large drug companies undermines that effort, they say." The Charlotte Observer quotes experts on both sides of the argument, notes that "[d]rug companies want U.S. negotiators to grant them 12 years of 'data exclusivity,' the same standard as in U.S. law," and writes, "In July, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the administration was taking 'a careful look' at how to balance intellectual property rights with the need to ensure access to life-saving medicines worldwide" (Hotakainen, 10/12).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.