Few health­care sec­tors be­moan Trump’s re­jec­tion of TPP trade deal

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By Adam Ruben­fire

The Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump aban­doned last week had few stead­fast fans in health­care.

Many feared its in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions would in­crease global phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prices. The drug in­dus­try, mean­while, ar­gued those pro­tec­tions didn’t go far enough.

The trade agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ex­tends greater pro­tec­tion for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal patents across a dozen Pa­cific Rim coun­tries. The U.S. was a sig­na­tory, but Pres­i­dent Barack Obama failed to gar­ner enough sup­port in Congress to rat­ify the pact into law. Trump pledged dur­ing his cam­paign to re­move the U.S. from the part­ner­ship. Hil­lary Clin­ton, his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, also crit­i­cized the agree­ment.

The trade pact would have elim­i­nated 18,000 taxes that other coun­tries place on goods from the U.S. The other na­tions that agreed to the pact are Aus­tralia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ja­pan, Malaysia, Mex­ico, New Zealand, Peru, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam.

Con­sumer ad­vo­cacy group Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen and aid or­ga­ni­za­tion Doc­tors With­out Bor- ders de­cried the deal’s in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­vi­sions that re­quired par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries to ex­tend data pro­tec­tion for bi­o­logic medicines— drugs pro­duced with liv­ing mat­ter— for at least five to eight years. They ar­gued that do­ing so would keep biosim­i­lars—the re­pro­duced “generic” ver­sions of bi­o­log­ics—from en­ter­ing the mar­ket and bring­ing prices down.

“I think the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion should use its power un­der ex­ist­ing law to make it clear we will al­low generic com­pe­ti­tion,” said Peter May­bar­duk, di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Ci­ti­zen’s Ac­cess to Medicines Pro­gram. “They should work with leg­is­la­tors, and leg­is­la­tors should push for a com­pre­hen­sive agenda on drug pric­ing, rec­og­niz­ing that monopoly power is the core of the prob­lem.” Ju­dit Rius Sanjuan, the U.S. man­ager for Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders’ Ac­cess Cam­paign, said it would be pos­si­ble to draft a trade agree­ment that sat­is­fies both the pri­vate sec­tor as well as non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions that are con­cerned about drug­maker mo­nop­o­lies. “We would like to see an agree­ment that is a win­win for in­no­va­tion and ac­cess,” she said.

But Sanjuan said it’s too early to know what the

PhRMA was no fan of the TPP. The in­dus­try was con­cerned that its in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions weren’t strong enough.

Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s next steps will be, and it’s hard to tell how the White House will treat the in­ter­ests of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies and NGOs. While the Repub­li­can Party tends to be pro-in­dus­try, Trump chas­tised the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try’s pric­ing prac­tices at many points through­out his cam­paign.

He has also said that he sup­ports im­port­ing drugs from other coun­tries and al­low­ing Medi­care to di­rectly ne­go­ti­ate on drug prices—mea­sures that are op­posed by Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Re­search and Man­u­fac­tur­ers of Amer­ica, which rep­re­sents the U.S. drug in­dus­try.

PhRMA was no fan of the TPP ei­ther. The in­dus­try was con­cerned that its in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions weren’t strong enough. Drug­mak­ers wanted 12 years of data ex­clu­siv­ity to match the pe­riod re­quired un­der U.S. fed­eral law. Some of the coun­tries in the deal don’t cur­rently have any ex­clu­siv­ity laws for bi­o­log­ics.

“PhRMA is sup­port­ive of bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral free-trade agree-

ments that in­clude strong in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions, en­hance mar­ket ac­cess and help us de­liver life­sav­ing medicines to the world’s pa­tients,” said Stephen Ubl, the lobby’s CEO. “As the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress pre­pare to shape our trade agenda, we look for­ward to work­ing with our gov­ern­ment’s lead­er­ship to se­cure smart, fair trade agree­ments that open new mar­kets and help grow our econ­omy and cre­ate bet­ter, higher-pay­ing jobs.”

The Generic Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal As­so­ci­a­tion said in a state­ment last week that pol­i­cy­mak­ers should de­velop patent rules that bal­ance in­cen­tives for in­no­va­tion with a de­sire for generic com­pe­ti­tion. GPhA also called on the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress to stop man­u­fac­tur­ers of brand-name drugs from in­ter­fer­ing in generic drug de­vel­op­ment and ac­cess.

“In­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from generic drugs and biosim­i­lars is a proven way to lower health spend­ing,” GPhA said. “We look for­ward to work­ing with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, bi­par­ti­san mem­bers of Congress and oth­ers on poli­cies that en­cour­age ac­cess to more af­ford­able medicines in the United States and around the world.”

U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ers of med­i­cal de­vices, on the other hand, sup­ported the TPP. The Ad­vanced Med­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion, known as Ad­vaMed, said early last year that the agree­ment would com­bat “cor­rupt busi­ness prac­tices” and es­tab­lish global “codes of con­duct” for de­vice trade. Ad­vaMed did ac­knowl­edge, how­ever, that cer­tain is­sues and con­cerns raised by other busi­ness sec­tors and Congress needed to be solved.

In re­sponse to Trump’s or­der last week, Ad­vaMed of­fered a short state­ment. “The med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try has con­sis­tently sup­ported trade agree­ments that open mar­kets and im­prove pa­tient ac­cess to needed med­i­cal ad­vance­ments. We look for­ward to work­ing with the new ad­min­is­tra­tion as it pur­sues these pro-in­no­va­tion, pro-pa­tient goals,” Ralph Ives, Ad­vaMed’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of global strat­egy and anal­y­sis, said in the state­ment.

Early in his cam­paign, Trump called the TPP a “hor­ri­ble deal … de­signed for China to come in, as they al­ways do, through the back door and to­tally take ad­van­tage of ev­ery­one.” China isn’t in­volved in the part­ner­ship; in fact, it’s pos­si­ble that China could now swoop in with its own deal to en­tice Pa­cific Rim coun­tries.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair­man of the Se­nate Armed Services Com­mit­tee and a for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, said in a state­ment that with­draw­ing from the TPP was a “se­ri­ous mis­take” that would have last­ing con­se­quences for the U.S. econ­omy and its po­si­tion in the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion.

“This de­ci­sion will for­feit the op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote Amer­i­can ex­ports, re­duce trade bar­ri­ers, open new mar­kets, and pro­tect Amer­i­can in­ven­tion and in­no­va­tion,” McCain said. “It will cre­ate an open­ing for China to re­write the eco­nomic rules of the road at the ex­pense of Amer­i­can work­ers.” ●

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dis­plays his ex­ec­u­tive or­der with­draw­ing the U.S. from the TPP.

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