TPP agreement may increase cost of HIV medication

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Concerns over the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) have risen as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has confirmed the deal would extend patents on many medications.

“The government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer,” Mr Key said, according to gaynz.com.

“But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the government may incur slightly more costs there.”

The agreement, which has strong support from the US government, stipulates that countries involved in the TPP who choose to provide citizens with cheaper generic medication would be breaching the agreement and become vulnerable to legal recourse by pharmaceutical corporations.

These tenets of the agreement would include HIV and PrEP medications. Popular PrEP drug Truvada is due to come out of patent very soon, which would allow cheaper generic HIV medications, possibly as early as 2017.

Should the TPP come into effect, generic medications would not be allowed, providing corporations manufacturing patented drugs with an industry monopoly.

So, what is the TPP?

The TPP is a controversial trade agreement between 12 nations across the Pacific Rim – Australia, Brunei, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States of America and Vietnam.

The aim of the agreement is to boost growth and set common standards across the 12 nations involved. The TPP would cover 40% of the global economy, defining rules for investment and trade for a dozen countries.

Due to have reached its final stages by 2012, the complexity and scale of the agreement have dragged negotiations out until 2015.

Representatives from the 12 nations are meeting in Maui this week, with many hoping to finalise the agreement before US Congress is dominated by the 2016 Presidential campaign as the TPP must still pass through USA’s parliament.

“This meeting will be extremely important to decide the fate of the TPP negotiations,” according to Akira Amari, Japan’s Economy Minister.

“I believe all the nations will come to the meeting with their strong determination that it has to be the last one,” Amari says.

Some of the most contentious elements of the agreement are still being debated. These divisive issues include preferential treatment for state-owned companies, opening protected markets to competition and patent monopolies on medications.

Canada are still dissatisfied with the state of the document, refusing to sign a deal that does not facilitate new dairy markets.

Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast believes there is a “lot of hard work to be done before this agreement is put to bed.”

Leigh Hill

The WA AIDS Council have been contacted for comment.

Stock image – yaymicro

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