The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal could increase the price of prescription drugs. Potentially life saving drugs will be out of the reach of even more Canadians. This is news for most Canadians, but Doctors Without Borders was issuing warnings and pleas for a stop to TPP negotiations long before Canadians heard anything about potential problems with pharmaceuticals and patents.
Canadians and their healthcare providers are all well aware that too often, Canadians can’t afford the medications that they need. 23% of Canadians are unable to take their drugs as prescribed and this leads to worse health, missed work, unnecessary hospitalizations, and even death. National Healthcare has come to mean minimal trouble getting to see a doctor — but increasingly unaffordable physician recommended treatments.
The proposed intellectual property rules will excessively boost patent and data protections for brand name drug companies while preventing price-lowering generic competition. Based on this information, it appears the TPP will undermine the ability of governments to bulk purchase drugs, thus preventing governments from negotiating better drug prices from large pharmaceutical companies.
A few weeks before the TPP was finalized in Atlanta, a critical drug used to treat a rare and dangerous form of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, took a sudden jump from $15 US per pill, to $360 US.
Hedge fund operators and others have sparked a very objectionable trend in the pharmaceutical industry. Small companies buying up old, off-patent drugs and jacking up the price. Elsewhere in the world this medication sold for pennies per dose. This is a medication that the World Health Organization has determined an essential medication. As such, it was targeted by people looking to make a quick buck.
Tuberculosis drug price jumps 2,000%, shocks doctors
TPP has ensured that programs like a national pharmacare program that would allow governments to leverage buying power to keep the cost of pharmaceuticals manageable, will be virtually impossible to implement. TPP favours corporate interests who simply see pharmaceuticals as another way for money to make money.
For years now, Canadians have been encouraged to get their flu shots each year. Canadians haven’t had to pay for the vaccine because it was an initiative that reduced the burden on healthcare systems and reduced the chances of epidemics. What if this were to change? What if the flu shot was no longer free and private corporations could charge as much as they determined the market could support?
The potential problems that the patent and data protections written into TPP can cause common Canadians and the greater world around us, are myriad. The more we learn about the TPP and the more closely we hold our elected representatives to account the better. This deal has been designed to be felt in increments to prevent public backlash until reversing its negative impacts are all but impossible. Worse, this deal has no expiration date. It isn’t a matter of letting it run its course.
Follow the TPP like it is your favourite book about to be turned into a blockbuster movie, or you pet underdog sports team coming into its own. Whatever it takes to keep you following the truth of TPP. Most importantly — take action on your own and with others. We can’t let our governments destroy our rights and freedoms — our very ability to survive and thrive. Especially not for a deal that will benefit less than 10% of the planet’s peoples — her entitled wealthy few who have no fear of not having access to necessary medications or anything else for that matter.