Clarification on US President Obama’s statement on the impact of the TPPA on a rise in drug prices (EN/CN)

Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng On 23.11.2015 In Kuala Lumpur.

Clarification on US President Obama’s statement on the impact of the TPPA on a rise in drug prices

Whilst opening the DAP Socialist Youth National Congress yesterday, I had said that if the impact on the prices of medicines as a result of the implementation of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) cannot be clarified by our Ministers, then DAP would have no choice but to oppose the TPPA when it is debated in parliament in January.

I also said that the US president, President Obama, had said that the price of medicines will go up. I made this statement based on a news article by a local news portal Malaysiakini, which on 20 November 2015 reported President Obama as saying that patented drugs will be pricier following the implementation of the TPPA. President Obama was reported to have said this at a Youth South East Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) town hall meeting at Taylor’s University on Friday, 20th of November, 2015.

The local news portal has since revised its story yesterday night and apologized for its error in reporting that President Obama said that the price of medicines will increase.Having being informed that malaysiakini had corrected its story, the fact is that President Obama did not explicitly state that the prices of medicines will increase as a result of the TPPA.

What President Obama said was that pharmaceutical companies want to have exclusive rights to the drugs they have created through research and development and that these companies want to keep selling these drugs at a higher and higher prices without lower cost generic substitutes. He also said that he believes that over time, the TPPA, through the elimination of tariffs on basic drugs such as penicillin, will result in the cost of some of these drugs going down.

The issue of whether the prices of medicines including the so-called ‘biologic’ pharmaceutical products will increase in Malaysia as a result of the TPPA still remains unanswered by the Malaysian authorities. Biologics is the future of medicine. Put simply, biologics uses biological compounds such as proteins, cells, tissues. It underpins all biotech medicines, stem cells therapy and gene therapy whereas “old fashion” medicines are usually chemical compounds. Is the 5 to 8 year protection for biologics an overly long period of excessive protection for medicines that are presented as the future hope for mankind?

Another issue which has not been addressed by the TPPA is the abuse of patent protection. We have seen this happen in the case of Turing Pharmaceuticals which raised the cost of a life-saving treatment for people with HIV and weakened immune systems by 5,500% overnight (US$13.50 to US$750). This hike was carried out in August/September 2015, shortly after a financial investor bought the rights to the drug.

As such, these concerns will continue to be raised by the DAP regarding the TPPA as well as other areas of concerns surrounding the TPPA.

LIM GUAN ENG
— CN–
民主行动党秘书长及峇眼国会议员林冠英于2015年11月23日在吉隆坡发表的文告

澄清针对美国总统奥巴马关于TPPA冲击药物涨价的言论。

在昨日的全国行动党社青团大会中,我说过若实施跨太平洋伙伴协定(TPPA),一旦导致药物价格受到冲击,而我们的部长又无法交代,行动党在别无选择下唯有在一月的国会辩论中反对TPPA。

我也说过,美国总统奥巴马说医药价格将上涨。我作出这项言论是根据本地《当今大马》新闻网站的报导,据报导奥巴马总统于2015年11月20日说各种有专利权的药物将在TPPA实施后上涨。报导也说奥巴马是于2015年11月20日在泰莱大学举行的东南亚青年领袖会议作出这番言论。

《当今大马》昨夜已经更正其新闻,并针对“奥巴马总统说药物涨价”的错误报导道歉。我被告知当今大马已经更正这则新闻,实情是奥巴马总统并没有明确的说TPPA会导致药物涨价。

奥巴马总统真正说的是药剂公司想要对他们研发制造的药物拥有独家专有权,好让这些药剂公司能在没有其他一般低廉的替代药物下,任意以越来越高的价格销售药物。他也说,他相信过了一段时间,透过TPPA消除如盘尼西林等普通药物的关税,将会促使一些药物降价。

但对于包含“生物”药剂产品在内的药价是否会随着TPPA的实施而上涨,至今马来西亚当局都还没能答复。“生物”药剂是未来的药物。简单说,生物药剂是以生物原有的蛋白、细胞、细胞组织作为成分。生物药剂涵盖了所有的生物科技药物、干细胞疗程、基因疗程,而旧式药物则通常是化学成分。 这里要问,生物药剂这项人类未来的医疗希望,其5至8年的价格保障期比之原有药物价格保障期还长,这保障期是否过长?

另一项TPPA未被提及的课题就是专利权保障的弊端。我们看到一个活生生的案例就是美国杜林制药厂一夕之间将免疫系统低弱的爱滋病患所使用的药物价格提高至5500%(从13.50美元提高至750美元)。这项调涨是该药厂投资者购得此药专利权不久之后就马上于2015年8至9月间实施。

因此,行动党仍旧会提起上述TPPA所带来的这些课题及关注TPPA在其他领域所带来的影响。

林冠英

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