The1st April or the April Fool’s is the day associated with silly jokes and a lot of fun but what if someone attributes this day to a trade agreement that aims at making huge profits at the cost of the precious human lives…?
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and the other health organizations worldwide decided to focus this year’s April Fool’s to the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, that if approved would allow the drug companies to sky-rocket the prices of the medicines. TPP allows longer patent terms that would ultimately lead to the high prices of the medicines. Also it would enable the pharmaceutical companies to challenge decisions on patents. The pharmaceutical companies should stop trying to fool a major proportion of world’s population by pressurizing their governments to approve the TPP. The approval of TPP would issue a green card to the drug companies to strengthen their monopoly over the pharmaceutical market and strengthen their intellectual property rights.
TPP would have adverse impacts on the drug market of the U.S by allowing the pharmaceutical sector use severe patent protections that would increase the prices of the medicines not only in the domestic market but would also make the drugs unaffordable to a vast majority of population of the world. During the demonstration, UAEM demanded the government not to approve TPP due to its catastrophic impacts it would have on people’s ability to access life-saving medicines, especially in poor countries.
UAEM and other allied organizations emphasized the need to dismiss those provisions that safeguard patent rights leading to a considerable reduction in production of cheap generic medicines while ensuring the availability of costly medicines in market.
According to a statement issued by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), “The TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] will…go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries”.
The TTP has been signed by 12 countries of the world including USA, Vietnam, Peru, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, and Australia. The agreement is now waiting for the approval from the ultimate legislation of every country.
Despite what pharmaceutical companies would have us believe, bio-medical research is driven by universities. The United States develops 1 in 3 drugs of therapeutic value while the drug companies are just adding to the bulk of money in their bank accounts. Martin Shkreli, CEO of a pharmaceutical company, who raised the price of a life-saving drug Daraprim 5000% to $ 750 per pill is one of its clear examples.
Nine out of ten pharmaceutical companies are spending more on marketing than on research. The drug companies try to justify the patent rights of their products by maintaining that these rights stop the entry of counterfeiting copies of the drugs in the market.
The drug companies have learnt the art of maximizing their profits, fundamentally their priority is with the shareholders not patients and patent rights have always proved to be their shield in this regard. Generally a patent has to last for 20 years but the medicine companies know the art to extend it for a of years-a process known of ever greening. . In this race of multiplying their profits, the pharmaceutical companies have failed to focus the neglected diseases that an estimated 1 in 6 people suffer from around the world. The communicable diseases like dengue, trachoma and filariasis are called the neglected diseases. Research into these medicines does not happen as the drug companies do not want to invest in low-return neglected diseases.
For example, one of the world’s most expensive drugs, Soliris, costs $ 440000 a year that is unaffordable to a vast majority of the world’s population. The drug company has the patent rights of this medicine has earned $ 2.6 billion in 2015 that is unbelievable. Similarly, Avastin used for treatment of cancer costs $ 50000 a year. Wtandi, a drug use to cure Cancer, is another example. The average wholesale price of this drug in the US is more than $129,000.
If TPP is approved by the legislature of the country, the prices of medicines may increase twice or even thrice while depriving millions of people across the world of their basic right to health and access to medicines.
CALL TO ACTION: It’s time to write our congressmen to reject the TPP.