Wikileaks exposes secretive trade deals between governments and big business
Wikileaks has released an updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Intellectual Property Rights Charter. This international agreement covers a range of issues that impact on the affordability of medical treatments, including cancer drugs. Wikileaks points out that the United States appears to be pushing for measures that could limit affordable access to vital drugs including those for Cancer and Ebola. According to Choice magazine, the agreements could lead to higher drug prices and reduced legal rights for Australians.
Australians are already paying 14 times more for some drugs used to combat cholesterol and severe depression, than people are in New Zealand, Britain and Canada. This is one of the reasons we have the third highest out of pocket medical costs in the world. The same drug purchased in different countries, costs the consumer completely different prices.
Few patients realise as they collect their script at the chemist, that the price they pay does not reflect the cost of producing the drug. Rather, it is a product of secretive deals done between governments and pharmaceutical companies. The tougher governments bargain, the lower the prices for the consumer.
Americans currently pay 40% more for drugs than Canadians and 50% more than France and Germany. The reason is that Americans do not have a large government body like the PBS to lobby with international pharmaceutical companies to get their prices down. In America’s totally privatised health system, price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies are conducted between the fragmented and far weaker private health insurance companies. The result? Americans pay far more for their drugs. In the health industry, size does matter. The result for American patients can mean the difference between life and death. According to the New York Times, the price of some very old, generic drugs like Digoxin has skyrocketed. Some Americans are now being asked to pay $1,000 per script for this drug, which has been used for cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure, since 1785. Only a few years ago, it was a few pennies for each pill.
CHOICE is currently campaigning against the secrecy surrounding the TPP. They have lodged a petition, signed by over 14,000 Australians, calling on the government to release the contents of the TPP. Choice are calling for public scrutiny, on the TPP, which is the world’s largest economic trade agreement. Choice calls for Fair Trade.
Choice notes that 63% of Australians are concerned about the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. Drugs opened up to competition have become 16% cheaper. And the TPP agreement could lead to Australians waiting an extra 12 years for a price drop on pharmaceutical drugs.
For the past several years, the United States and 12 Pacific Rim nations have been negotiating behind closed doors on this wide-ranging legally binding agreement. The documents released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday details agreements covers patents, copyright, trademarks and industrial design. Democracy Now!