Trans-Pacific Partnership could see pharma giants keeping monopolies on drugs for longer

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has joined with twenty two academic institutions and health groups in calling for greater transparency in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks which they believe put at risk Australia’s health policy.

“It’s time to act to protect our hard won consumer rights in the area of health policy such as plain packaged cigarettes and subsidised medicine,” says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.

“We are asking consumers to pressure the Government to release the draft text of the agreement for consultation.”

The CHOICE campaign action comes as academics from UNSW, the University of Sydney and La Trobe University release a Health Impact Assessment of the TPP outlining the potential impact on health policy in Australia.

“The report paints bleak possibilities for healthcare in Australia under a post-TPP environment, with the potential that medicine costs could skyrocket as US firms lobby for sweeteners.”

“We know from a leaked draft that the US wants Australians to pay more for life-saving drugs by keeping some products under monopolies for longer.”

For example, this could mean taxpayers will pay more for these drugs:

  • Arthritis drug (Humira) – $44.7 million per year
  • Treatment for eye disease (Eylea) – $27.8 million per year
  • Breast cancer medicine (Herceptin)- $15.5 million per year

“We are genuinely concerned that consumer protections in areas like food labelling and tobacco plain packaging could be challenged from the likes of big food and tobacco companies,” Mr Kirkland says.

“We do not want an agreement negotiated in secret and then presented to the Australian Parliament for a take-it-or-leave-it decision.”

“That is why we have joined with health advocacy bodies and academics to call on the government to release for public debate the text before it’s signed.”

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