'Wealthy drug companies don't need Harper's help in trade deal - consumers and patients do'

TORONTO, Aug. 4, 2015 /CNW/ - Damaging provisions relating to access to medicines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal will cement high drug prices and undermine the health of hundreds of millions of people for generations, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU) charged today. The TPP is being negotiated between Canada, the U.S. and 10 other Pacific Rim countries.

" The Harper government is negotiating a trade deal that will strengthen and create new patent and regulatory monopolies for pharmaceutical products that will raise the price of drugs and reduce the availability of lower cost generics, " says Michael Hurley, president of OCHU.

" This will place a growing and unaffordable financial burden on Ontario consumers and hospitals (that provide drugs free to inpatients) and will deprive citizens of poorer countries of access to life saving medicines because of cost. People in poorer countries will die because of lack of access to affordable medicines, while the drug companies will grow even wealthier. The drug companies do not need the protection of the Harper government- consumers and patients in Canada and around the Pacific Rim do " says Hurley.

Doctors Without Borders has raised the alarm on:

  • "patent ever-greening," which will force TPP governments to grant drug companies additional patents for changes to existing medicines, even when those changes provide no therapeutic benefit;
  • 12 years of "data exclusivity" for vaccines and drugs to treat conditions such as cancer and multiple sclerosis which will block government regulatory authorities from allowing price-lowering generic competitors to enter the market with previously generated clinical data;
  • Excluding brand-name drugs and vaccines from direct competition for excessively long periods of time while patients and health systems endure unnecessarily high prices;

" Canada should suspend its participation in TPP negotiations pending the outcome of the federal election,"Hurley says.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Michael Hurley, president, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 819-456-2159


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