MP disputes indie analysis of TPP, insists prices of drugs will rise

Santiago insisted that the deal would lead to longer patent and exclusivity periods, which would allow pharmaceutical companies to dictate pricing. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Santiago insisted that the deal would lead to longer patent and exclusivity periods, which would allow pharmaceutical companies to dictate pricing. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

PETALING JAYA, Dec 15 — Two independent cost-benefit analyses of Malaysia’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) failed to disprove fears that generic medicines will become more expensive if the country joins the deal, a DAP lawmaker asserted today.  

DAP MP Charles Santiago insisted that the studies by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) and PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) only said that Malaysia will be allowed "timely access" to the medicines and neglected to mention their affordability.

"This simply means that medicines both, generic and biologic, will be made available, but whether or not the prices will go up, it did not say. However, price of drugs is surely to go up because of exclusivity rights given to pharmaceutical companies," the Klang MP told a news conference.

He insisted that the deal would lead to longer patent and exclusivity periods, which would allow pharmaceutical companies to dictate pricing.

He also said the intellectual property chapter of the TPP text contradicted the Malaysian National Medical Policy (MNMP), which he noted calls for affordable healthcare and not timely access.

Saying that Malaysians rely heavily on generic medicine, Santiago said the sick are surely to suffer financially if Malaysia signs the TPP. He also cited a report that said 45 per cent of cancer patients here were already facing “financial catastrophe” due to treatment costs that exceed a third of their annual income.

The TPP is a free trade agreement that has been negotiated by the US, Malaysia and ten other nations as part of the larger Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership since 2010.

Negotiations were concluded in October and Putrajaya must table the agreement in Parliament for debate and approval to sign the deal.