TPP Can Help Healthcare Access

TPP Can Help Healthcare Access

04.11.14 | By Mark Grayson

As the twelve countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) approach the finish line after years of hard work on an ambitious agreement, there remains quite a bit of work left to be done. Now that all the low hanging fruit has been picked, the most difficult issues remain to be finalized., Much of the criticism of TPP from outside groups is based on flawed or false assumptions that severely understate the role of intellectual property in developing new and lifesaving medicines. On the contrary, we believe the TPP offers an opportunity for governments to promote patient access to medicines by ensuring that their regulatory and legal frameworks value innovation and the underlying  intellectual property (IP) to develop new and improved medicines for patients.

The TPP reflects the trend in recent trade agreements that go beyond traditional import-export issues and encompass much farther reaching goals such as IP protection and enforcement. IP is not only the lifeblood of American innovative industries, but also plays a vital role for nations that recognize that innovation is a cornerstone (indeed, a prerequisite) for sustained, long term economic success. Its critical importance is a major reason why the IP provisions of the TPP have garnered the focus and resources of the United States and its pro-innovation partners to carefully negotiate.

For the global innovative biopharmaceutical industry, however, intellectual property issues go much deeper than economics and bottom lines. Perhaps the most important reason for establishing strong worldwide intellectual property standards is the hope it means for patients around the world waiting for new treatments and cures for diseases like cancer, diabetes and malaria. Seventy percent of medicines currently in clinical development around the globe are potential first-in-class breakthrough medicines. But the path from basic research to new medicines is extremely complex, requiring high-cost risk taking and fraught with setbacks.  Strong worldwide standards for IP are a critical component of the policy environment required to support the development of these life-changing new medicines that also make up the blueprint for future generics.

In fact, countries participating in the TPP currently have over 6,000 medicines in development, including Peru, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Because of innovation, the HIV virus is no longer the death sentence it once was, and survival rates for cancer and cardiovascular disease are much higher. In the context of trade agreements like the TPP, the right environment to support the development of new innovative medicines must be encouraged as much as possible in order to help patients in the participating nations and around the world.



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