July 6, 2015
The latest Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade secrets revealed in Wikileaks highlights the push by the pharmaceutical giants to strangle competition by eliminating the generic prescription drug market under President Obama’s new trade legacy. The Pacific Rim multi-national, multi-trillion dollar trade treaty will affect a broad swath of patients, health plans, and workers in the US as well as globally.
The framework for the first deal incorporates 12 countries, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand and represents approximately 40 percent of global trading. The crux of the latest TPP revelation means big pharma will not only set the price it can charge American consumers, like Medicare and insurance companies, but it will dictate prices to US trading partners. Many countries, like Canada, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand have corralled prescription medication costs at much lower levels than the US marketplace giving its citizens more access to costly lifesaving medications.
“It was very clear to everyone except the U.S. that the initial proposal wasn’t about transparency. It was about getting market access for the pharmaceutical industry by giving them greater access to and influence over decision-making processes around pricing and reimbursement,” said Deborah Gleeson, a lecturer at the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University in Australia was quoted in the New York Times. She explains that while the transparency annex has been curtailed, “I think it’s a shame that the (pharmaceuticals) annex is still being considered at all for the TPP.”
Other liberal watchdog groups like Public Citizen say, the TPP “leak reveals that the Obama administration, acting at the behest of pharmaceutical companies, has subjected Medicare to a series of procedural rules, negotiated in secret, that would limit Congress’ ability to enact policy reforms that would reduce prescription drug costs for Americans – and might even open to challenge aspects of our health care system today,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of the Global Access to Medicines Program.
The deal also raises concerns with generic brand manufacturers. Under the “transparency annex” chapter of TPP, pharmaceutical giants will further cement their role in guaranteeing higher reimbursement rates for their bottom lines at the expense of the US taxpayers and its TPP trading partners.
“The draft text includes provisions that could make it extremely tough for generics to challenge brand-name pharmaceuticals abroad. Those provisions could also help block copycats from selling cheaper versions of the expensive cutting-edge drugs known as ‘biologics’ inside the US, restricting treatment for American patients while jacking up Medicare and Medicaid costs for American taxpayers. There’s very little distance between what Pharma wants and what the US is demanding,” said Rohit Malpini, director of policy for Doctors Without Borders.
The contract “will increase the cost of medicines worldwide, starting with the 12 countries that are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Judit Rius Sanjuan, a lawyer for Doctors Without Borders.
But can poorer countries like Vietnam or Peru cover the expected rise in prescription drug costs? Not likely.
Insiders say the deal may be about (limiting the anti-big pharma) New Zealand model that has successfully kept prescription drug costs down and kept US manufacturers in the dark when it comes to negotiating its consumer’s responsibility.
Further the NYT notes, “American negotiators are still pressing participating governments to open the process that sets reimbursement rates for drugs and medical devices,” in an effort to stop the practice and give pharmaceutical manufacturers the negotiating edge.
“It’s a question of basic due process,” said Jay Taylor, vice president for international affairs for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a group lobbying on behalf of big pharma.
In fact, the pharmaceutical industry has been the largest lobbying group when it comes to the TPP trade agreement. Critics argue the pharmaceutical industry lobbying seeks to curtail government health plans that reduce drug reimbursement rates to the pharmaceutical companies. The annex mandates the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as one of the programs that must comply with the new TPP regulations.
It’s also important to keep in mind pharmaceutical companies were huge winners under the George W. Bush’s administration’s implementation of Medicare Part D, in which the government contracted with big pharma at retail prices – sending prescription drugs prices through the roof. Medicare Part D is expected to pay out more than $75 billion to drug manufacturers in 2015. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS, the underfunded government prescription drug program is on track to cost taxpayers $16 trillion in order to fulfill its obligations for the current batch of American recipients.
The kicker for Americans is the trade deal erodes US sovereignty by forcing the resolution of any disputes before an Investor State Dispute Settlement panel consisting of a three-lawyer extrajudicial tribunals run by the United Nations or the World Bank – not US courts and US laws.
Despite all the controversy, lawmakers quietly passed TPP/TPA legislation last week. In a White House statement President Obama said; “I applaud the Democrats and Republicans in Congress who came together to give the United States the chance to negotiate strong, high-standard agreements for free and fair trade that protect American workers and give our businesses the opportunity to compete. With bipartisan majorities, Congress also voted to expand vital support for thousands of American workers each year, and to bolster economic relations between sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. Of course, we still have more work to do on behalf of our workers, which is why I’ll continue to encourage Congress to pass robust trade enforcement legislation that will help us crack down on countries that break the rules. But this week’s votes represent a much-needed win for hardworking American families.”
But the TPP trade deal leaves Congressional input at the door and instead forces lawmakers to vote “yes” or “no” on an entire trade deal without amendment. The new rule essentially shuts out lawmakers like Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who have filibustered major legislation the past few years. Paul even complained specifically about the new trade deal and its filibuster proof language. “They claim you’ll get to see it, again but you’ll only get an up-or-down vote with no amendments. Also, they get rid of some of the rules on — I guess it’s not, you can’t filibuster it either. It passes with a simple majority,” he said. For those wondering why Paul didn’t take the Senate floor on this abrasive deal now understand his own party is keeping the legislation filibuster proof—what a system.
TPP puts US wages on life support sending jobs to the ER
Despite headlines two weeks ago proclaiming Democrats handed President Obama’s trade deal a humiliating defeat, GOP tinkering saved the Trade Promotion Authority or “fast-track” authority and its companion the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact sending the globalist legislation to President Obama for signature.
Included in the treaties being negotiated by President Obama’s team is the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). Thanks to Wikileaks, American’s are able to read portions of the contents of the highly secretive trade agreement that takes aim at American jobs and wages.
Under TiSA, foreign workers in the following fields; engineering, nursing, computer programming, veterinary medicine, management consulting, construction, waste disposal, hotel and restaurant work, transportation and recreation would be greatly expanded.
Alarmingly, according to unions and political opponents TiSA would facilitate the movement of unlimited numbers of skilled and unskilled workers into America. So what are the implications for middleclass Americans struggling to get by?
Home court advantage is a powerful factor in head-to-head battle, it provides a slight advantage most fans understand, while the visitor can win, the season-long hard work of the local team will benefit from family and friends. So what’s this have to do with the Trans Pacific trade Partnership (TPP)?
Everything. Keep reading here
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