Trade agreement could elevate cost of prescription drugs

Dear editor,

Nobel Peace Prize recipients Doctors Without Borders tell us the use of generic drugs has dropped the cost of anti-retroviral drugs used to treat AIDS from more than $10,000 per person per year in 2001, to just $100 today.

That makes it possible for more than nine million people to receive treatment in developing countries.

This humanitarian organization, which has in the past not remained quiet, is again raising the alarm this time about an impending and far-reaching trade deal being negotiated in secret by the U.S., Canada and 10 other Pacific Rim nations.

Leaked documents reveal that the United States is pushing for stringent intellectual property protections for drugs, which could give pharmaceutical companies longer monopolies over brand-name drugs threatening the availability of affordable lifesaving generic drugs.

This Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) could become the most harmful trade agreement ever for access to medicines.

This deal uses the NAFTA as a template for solving trade disputes and is in effect another corporate rights agreement that overrides the sovereign rights of the citizenry to pass laws that may protect our health or the environment.

The American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly is using NAFTA to sue the Canadian government, that is us, for $500 million for invalidating one of its patents, claiming, among other things, that the company’s expected profits were “expropriated” when the patent was overturned.

We have already paid millions to Ethyl Corporation for banning a neurotoxic gasoline additive.

By urging Canada and other TPP negotiating countries to reject rules that threaten to dismantle internationally agreed-upon public health safeguards, Doctors Without Borders joins  advocates concerned about genetically modified food, Internet privacy, the environment and our sovereignty, all calling on our government not to sign this deal as is.

Our government seems willing to sign such a deal.

The deal is not yet signed and will most likely not be debated in Parliament. Our member of Parliament, John Duncan, can be reached at 250-338-9381 or at 576 England Ave. in Courtenay, or postage-free at 121 East Block House of Commons Ottawa On K1A OA6, or via e-mail at john.duncan@parl.gc.ca.

Mel McLachlan,



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