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Voters Need More Information On Free Trade Agreement That Could Impact Drug Prices

In an opinion piece in the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog, Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, discusses potential policies contained within the “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a pact that the United States is negotiating with Australia, Canada, Japan and eight other countries in the Pacific region.” However, “[a]t this point, it’s not really possible to discuss the merits of the TPP since the governments are keeping the proposed text a secret from the public,” he says. Noting “[a] few items that have been leaked give us some insight as to the direction of this pact,” he discusses how the “pharmaceutical industry is … likely to be a big gainer” from the TPP if the pact includes “stronger and longer patent protection and also increased use of ‘data exclusivity.’”

Baker says “that stronger copyright and patent protection, along with data exclusivity, is the opposite of free trade” because “[t]hey involve increased government intervention in the market; they restrict competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.” He continues, “Voters should have a chance to decide if they want to vote for candidates who support raising the price of drugs for people in the United States and the rest of the world … But there is no text and no discussion in the [presidential] campaigns — and that is exactly how the corporations who stand to gain want it” (8/27).