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TPP would hand too much influence to tobacco and pharmaceutical firms

| December 9, 2013

Civic groups have warned of the potential negative impacts a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement could have on the poor and their “medical rights,” according to a story by Lu Hsin-hui and Jay Chen for Focus Taiwan.

The warning came as ministers from 12 countries gathered in Singapore over the weekend for closed-door meetings on the trade bloc.

Fears were expressed over apparent proposals for granting longer patent periods for drugs, for granting drug-data exclusivity and for giving pharmaceutical companies more say in deciding which drugs were eligible for state subsidies as prescribed medications, and how much they were subsidized.

The South East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, a civic group based in Bangkok, faulted the TPP negotiations for backtracking on the prevention of smoking-related health risks.

The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control required its 170 signatories to act on the prevention of tobacco-related diseases, but, the Focus Taiwan story said, under current TPP proposals, each member government would be required to consult with tobacco companies when drafting restrictions.

Meanwhile, 32 U.S. groups have written to the U.S. Trade Representative, ambassador Michael Froman, seeking his explicit commitment that the U.S. will not propose or agree to any provisions in the TPP that would undermine the domestic sovereign rights of participating countries to adopt or maintain measures to reduce tobacco use and to prevent the harm it causes to public health.

The 32 mainly health groups pointed out what they saw as the compelling body of statements by major medical, public health and public interest organizations in the U.S. that had consistently called on the U.S. to exercise leadership in the negotiations on the TPP to advance tobacco control measures that contributed to reducing the enormous burden of disease related to tobacco use and prevent incursions by the tobacco industry against those measures.

“We must remove tobacco control measures and tobacco products from trade agreements and assure that tobacco control measures will not be subject to challenge through the TPP and all future trade agreements,” the letter stated. “Malaysia, a TPP trading partner, has proposed carving out tobacco control measures, and tobacco products, from the agreement. This proposal, if accepted, would set a standard in trade law that would complement the global consensus on fighting the tobacco epidemic enshrined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to which all TPP countries are signatories.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death, claiming over 6 million lives a year. Past trade agreements have provided opportunities for multinational tobacco corporations to make cigarettes cheaper, to launch massive marketing campaigns and to challenge public health measures such as a U.S. ban on clove cigarettes, and plain packaging. The U.S. must lead the way towards policies that protect and improve the public’s health.”

Category: Breaking News

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