OVERVIEW: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is currently being negotiated among 12 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. If passed, it will become the largest U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) in history. It is anticipated that the agreement will expand existing intellectual property (IP) protections on pharmaceutical products, which will ultimately impede access to affordable generic medicines for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C.
The IP provisions under consideration go well beyond the standards established by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TPP continues a pattern of incrementally increasing IP protections for pharmaceuticals beyond those enshrined in recently negotiated FTAs. These repeated measures to extend IP protections result in a decline in generic competition and an increase in drug costs for those who can least afford them, and set dangerous precedents for future FTAs.