New trade agreements threaten treatment access in Asia

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

On 6th October, community activists organisations in south-east Asia issued a press statement expressing concerns that the new Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will threaten access to affordable generic medicines and sustainable development goals. [1]

The joint statement from the Asia Pacific Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (APN+), Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+) and the Vietnam Network of People living with HIV (VNP+) called for countries and governments to reject ratifications of TPPA.

The TPPA has been led by the United States and includes 11 countries including seven in the Asia-Pacific region including Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei. Details of the deal were negotiated in secret and are still unclear but are expected to include extended patent and exclusivity provisions – including for HIV, hepatitis and cancer treatments – that will endanger the lives and health of millions of patients in these countries.

The measures are contrary to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Doha Declaration which re-affirmed the right of countries to use flexibilities in the previous Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement that was developed 20 years ago.

The statement included comment from Shiba Phurailatpam of APN+:

“… the reporting around the TPP has focused only on an exclusivity period for biological medicines with a reported push back on the 12 year period proposed by the US being presented as a victory for developed countries in the TPP like Australia. But even a mandatory 5-year period of exclusivity along with the several other restrictive conditions imposed by the US, will have a massive adverse impact in countries like Malaysia and Vietnam, as will the other damaging provisions in the intellectual property chapter.

The conclusion of this trade deal makes a mockery of the Sustainable Development Goals and the new WHO HIV treatment guidelines that call for immediate initiation of treatment.

We are shocked that the secret deal has been concluded without public consultation or a proper health and human rights review. Even now the text is being kept secret. APN+ members are in 6 of the TPPA countries – Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Japan – and will be among the first to face the consequences of the TPP on their health and lives.”


hepcAsia. (6 October 2015). 20 years after the TRIPS agreement, the US government scores massive victory for Big Pharma in TPP deal. (6 October 2015).

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