Geneva Network Forum in Singapore last May

Last May 23, 2015, our friends and allies, Geneva Network (UK-based) and Southeast Asia Network for Development (SEANET, Malaysia-based) held a forum in Singapore on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Health and intellectual property right (IPR).

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That last week of May, trade negotiators from some of the world’s most powerful economies met in Guam to thresh out the final stages of the TPP.  This free trade agreement – which in Asia includes Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam and Brunei – stands to become a significant milestone in the deeper integration of the global economy.

Despite the economic potential of the TPP, one of its cornerstones – stronger intellectual property rights – remains controversial, with health NGOs claiming it will impact public health by raising the price of medicines.

To what extent are such fears justified? Why is intellectual property in this trade agreement important for the future of medical innovation? And what does the TPP mean for health in the Asia region?

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The speakers in that forum were:

(1) Prof Elizabeth Siew Kuan Ng, Faculty of Law, National Univ. of Singapore (NUS)

(2) Philip Stevens, Director, Geneva Network, UK

(3) Bill Claxton, Carcinoid & NeuroEndocrine Tumour Society

(4) Andrew Spiegel, Global Colon Cancer Association, and

(5) Mo Mayrides, Associate VP, PhRMA, USA.

Moderator was Dr. Debora Elms, Executive Director, Asian Trade Centre, Singapore.

Reposting below tweets by @SEANET_asia that day. All photos here are also from SEANET. Come, follow SEANET on  twitter and facebook, thanks.

(1) Prof Elizabeth Ng begins by introducing the countries involved in #TPP and how negotiation will impact the countries.

No one should begrudge that patent owners deserve adequate protection of returns from investment of considerable resources.

TPP Provision : Patent term extension, data exclusivity, including biologics and patent linkage.

It’s often argued that stronger IP foster econ growth, but counter agreement is flow of FDIs is not solely on property rights.

What are challenges to incorporate in regional system?

  1. Restriction on trips flexibilities eg: data exclusivity

2 : Lack of skilled patent examiners and other skilled workforce.

  1. Access to medicine for the poor : price increases and lack of access to affordable generics.

#ASEAN #TPP countries – how do you further enhance corporation with AEC happening when only 4 ASEAN countries are involved?

The tension between patent protection and access for public health is unlikely to abate.

it is understandable the pharma industry feels justified to seek stronger patent protection

Protection and access must be appropriately calibrated in order to achieve balance between public interest and private interest.

(2) Philip Stevens from @genevanetwork : It’s unlikely that there will be changes to the provisions on data inclusivity for chemical drugs.

If #IP protection increases in Malaysia, companies will set up R&D facilities.

No one has done cost benefit analysis on the impact heightened #IP provisions on the availability of medicines in developing countries.

There is a positive relationship between trade liberalisation and better health outcomes.

How? Economic liberalisation increases incomes – allows people to get better nutrition and sanitation.

(3) Bill Claxton of Carcinoid & NeuroEndocrine Tumour Society discusses how innovative medical care has improved his life.

As a patient advocate, I have become increasingly impressed with how pharmaceutical companies support patient groups.

#TPP we need to protect innovators and incentivise their efforts.

Clinical trial can’t work for rare diseases. Many trial fails because of trial designs.

If you look at the debate of 5/7/12 yrs for data protection – it won’t make a huge difference in rare disease community.

We are looking for a balance between protection and access between public interest and private interest.

(4) Mo Mayrides, Assoc VP of PhRMA representing industry views on #IP in the #TPP

I don’t see how the #TPP would deny governments the right to public health access.

(5) Andrew Spiegelfrom Global Cancer Association who traveled from Philadelphia to attend the panel this morning

Patients that are diagnosed with colon cancer are living longer and more comfortably as a result of innovative biological drugs

Biologics have had tremendous impact on medicine, but there is still a long way to go

Investments will not occur in medical technology if there is no #IP protection

The scary part is if innovation stops, we would rather medicine get delayed into market than not being made all.

Open Forum, questions:

(a) Biggest barrier to #TPP is American public opinion. Do all patient advocacy groups align w your perspectives?

Andrew : Declaration of support among patient advocacy groups on #IP protection, 100 groups signed and delivered to President Obama

Bill Claxton:Patient groups are not well informed on this issue. It is possible to get a consensus view.Patient advocacy is an emerging area.

Dr Elms : Hypothetically, there is some time for patient groups to get mobilised by end of the year.

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(b) Question ; How long does it take for medicine to be made and the cost?

Mo : Study from Tufts University – Cost is 2.6 USD Billion and takes 2-6 years to develop. Takes 7- 8 years before any return on investment.

Critics will say the cost is overblown. But costs have gone up in recent years.

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