TPPA Facts

Medicine & Public Health

Throughout the back and forth about the TPPA, one of the biggest concerns has been how the deal could affect Kiwis' access to medicines. The worry was that drug companies would invent new treatments but be allowed to keep the recipe to themselves for many years. That would prevent competition and allow them to keep prices much higher. This page looks at how the TPPA will affect your prescriptions bill and access to medicines, as well as the global impact on affordable medicine. 


➜ Principles for increased transparency and fairness in national pharmaceutical purchasing were agreed to by all TPPA parties (but those principles are not legally enforceable).


➜ A requirement to provide patent extensions when there are delays in approving medicines.

➜ A new review mechanism for pharmaceutical companies to challenge PHARMAC's decisions.

➜ Patent extensions will cost about $1 million a year, while setting up up the PHARMAC review process will cost $4.5 million upfront with $2.2million a year in ongoing costs

➜ Global expanded market access for Big Pharma at monopoly prices dictated by industry. This will hit less developed countries hardest.

When doctors speak out, we should probably listen

(They are rather qualified after all...)

"TPPA will bring stagnation on actions to control the products that make people sick in the first place - tobacco control, managing junk food advertising to children and cutting down on fossil fuels being turned into carbon emissions and climate change." - Doctors For Healthy Trade NZ

The TPPA includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism which provides big pharmaceutical and medical device industries with an avenue to sue our government, or threaten to sue, over policy decisions they perceive as breaching their rights (or profits) under the TPPA. The risk is that an ISDS claim could be made, or that a company may threaten to use ISDS, in an effort to deter governments from regulating in the interest of public health. The United States alone accounts for more than a third of the global pharmaceutical market, with $340 billion in annual sales - more than the entire GDP of New Zealand. If you think they won't protect their profits with a lawsuit, you're probably wrong.

The TPPA does not prevent countries from prohibiting direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, but if a TPPA country that has previously permitted pharmaceutical advertising subsequently prohibits or places new limits on it, this may be challenged using the ISDS mechanism. Similarly, regulations on advertising in the interest of public health (ie. regulation of advertising high fat, high sugar food and drinks to children or plain packaging laws for tobacco) could also be challenged under ISDS.

(Source: 'Preliminary analysis of the final TPP Healthcare Transparency Annex' by Dr Deborah Gleeson, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University)

Under TPPA, we could be sued for regulating advertising in the stuff that makes people sick in the first place - junk food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco.

Sued for doing what's best for people? No thanks!