Harper's trans-Pacific trade deal "final nail in Ontario hospitals' coffin," says hospital union

TORONTO, Oct. 8, 2015 /CNW/ - Bowing to pressure from the United States (U.S.), "the Harper Conservative government has negotiated a damaging trade deal that gives patent protection to big pharmaceutical companies, while delaying access to lower cost generic drugs for ill patients who need them to stay alive. Life – saving medicines should not be a trade commodity, that only some can afford," says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).

Access to medicines is one of the key provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal negotiated between Canada, the U.S. and ten other Pacific Rim countries. The TPP is the latest in a succession of trade deals that have limited access to medications by driving up drug prices. According to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, the deals are a contributing factor to drug costs tripling in the U.S. since 1987.

Spiking drug prices is a growing and unaffordable financial burden on Ontario consumers and hospitals (that provide drugs free to inpatients), says Hurley. "Here, Harper's TPP deal and the increased costs for drugs it will fuel, will put the final nail in Ontario hospitals' coffin."   

"Equally harmful," says Hurley, is that the deal 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 Canadian government - consumers and patients in Canada and around the Pacific Rim do.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, 416.884.0770; Stella Yeadon, Communications, Canadian Union of Public Employees, 416.559.9300


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