Trading away public health? Health issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

Trading away public health? Health issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

The Australian government is negotiating a Trans- Pacific Partnership free trade agreement with the United States, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

But the agenda on health issues is being set by giant US corporations. Leaked US documents reveal that pharmaceutical companies are demanding higher prices for medicines through changes to the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and more rights to delay access to cheaper generic medicines. US tobacco companies like Philip Morris are demanding the right to sue governments over proposed tobacco plain packaging legislation. Negotiations are ongoing. We must urge our government to stand by its policies and refuse these demands.

The latest round of TPPA negotiation is set to take place in Melbourne during the 1st to the 9th of March.

Australian government policy, recently amended at the ALP conference, should mean that it refuses demands to reduce our health, environmental and cultural regulation, and supports enforceable labour rights and environmental protections.  But there is enormous pressure from the US to reach agreement.

We need to have a strong voice from unions and community groups at the negotiations to ensure that the policy is implemented without concessions and so AFTINET is publicising a number of events to make sure this happens.

The following events are open to the general public and we encourage you to participate and spread the word throughout your networks so we have as many people as possible come along.

Follow this link for a copy of our flyer for the Melbourne Round events.

Follow this link for more information on the Melbourne Round events.

  • Thursday 1st March from 6:00-8:00pm - Public Forum ( Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement – Fair Trade or Free Trade)
  • Monday 5th March – 6:00-7:30pm – Public Forum ( TPPA and Access to Medicines)  
  • Thursday 8th March – 12:30-1:15pm International Women's Day Public Rally/ Protest Meeting "Fair Deal or No Deal"

Monday 5th March – 6:00-7:30pm – Public Forum

TPPA and Access to Medicines (title: To Be Confirmed)

Speakers include:

-          Ms Sanya Reid-Smith, Third World Network.

-          Mr John Rock, APN + People Living With HIV in the Asia Pacific Region.

-          Mr Matt Cleary, Medecins Sans Frontieres.

      Chair Deborah Gleeson, Public Health Association of Australia.

Sponsored by Public Health Association of Australia (Victorian Branch), the Nossal Institute for Global Health and the People's Health Movement of Australia.

Venue: University of Melbourne, Executive Lounge, 1st Floor, Alan Gilbert Building, 161 Barry Street (corner Grattan and Barry Sts) Melbourne


RSVP for catering purposes by 2 March to: Brigitte Tenni, email: or ph: 61 3 8344 1868.

For a copy of the flyer follow this link .


October 2011 - UNITED STATES UNDERMINES ACCESS TO MEDICINES IN AUSTRALIA & PACIFIC - a joint media release from AFTINET and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) issued on 25/10/2011

AFTINET and PHAA jointly commented on leaked documents on the United States position. A copy of the leaked documents is avilable from :

Leaked proposals for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement confirm United States (US) efforts to undermine access to medicines in Australia and the Pacific, according to the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET).  “The Australian public should be concerned about the effects secret trade discussions being conducted in Peru this week could have on the affordability of medicines in Australia and other countries in the Asia Pacific region,” said PHAA Spokesperson Dr Deborah Gleeson.

Leaked texts outlining US proposals for the TPP free trade agreement confirm earlier reports that the US is seeking to include provisions that would raise the cost of medicines, extend the monopoly rights of pharmaceutical companies over life-saving drugs and place new restrictions on pharmaceutical reimbursement programs like Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

“These sorts of provisions have no place in trade agreements.  The operation of the PBS and similar schemes in other countries should not be determined by international trade rules that can override domestic policies,” said AFTINET Convenor Dr Patricia Ranald. 

For a full copy of the media release follow this link.

Community Education Leaflet

On 17th February AFTINET released an updated version of our community education leaflet on Health issues in the TPPA. For a copy of the leaflet follow this link.

Media Release

AFTINET and People’s Health Association of Australia (PHAA) issued a joint media release on September 1st 2011 highlighting the health issues involved in the TPPA negotiations. For a copy of the media release follow this link.

US Proposals to delay access to cheaper medicines

Follow this link to download a chart outlining the US proposals.

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS): the threat to health, environment and other social regulation.

Paper presented at the Stakeholders Forum, eighth round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, September 10, 2011, Chicago, USA. Follow this link to download the full paper.

Summary: This paper provides a brief overview of the experience of investor state disputes settlement (ISDS) and the debate about ISDS in Australia, which resulted in its exclusion from the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) negotiated in 2004. The evidence on ISDS was re-examined by the Australian Productivity Commission in its 2010 Report, which found no evidence to justify ISDS but found evidence of considerable policy and financial risk to legitimate social regulation. ISDS action by the Philip Morris Company against Australian tobacco plain packaging legislation under a 1993 Hong Kong-Australia bilateral investment treaty has further influenced Australian government policy against ISDS, and has probably strengthened government and public opposition.

What you can do?
There are several things you can do:

Follow this link to the AFTINET TPPA Health Media and Resources Page.

PHMOz on TPPA Health Impacts:
The People's Health Movement Australia (PHMOz) is concerned about proposed intellectual property and investment provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that could undermine public health regulation and access to essential medicines. PHMOz has published an analysis on their website:
"The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement: Implications for public health regulation and access to medicine."

Follow this link to their website.

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