Worldwide, millions of people die each year because they cannot afford the medicines they need. These numbers could climb even higher, unless Canada and other Pacific Rim countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations take decisive action to protect global public health.

Stephen CornishExecutive Director MSF Canada

UPDATE, October 5, 2015: an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership — an international trade deal with severe implications for access to affordable medicines — has been reached by negotiators from 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, in Atlanta.



As negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) trade deal continue to go forward, Canada could be facing a final opportunity to stand strong against restricted access to medicines for millions of people.

Proposed intellectual property rules in the TPP would limit competition from generic drug manufacturers that reduce drug prices and improve access to treatment, and would accelerate already soaring medicine and vaccine prices.



The most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines.

The TPP, which is currently being negotiated between the U.S., Canada and ten other Pacific Rim nations, is on track to become the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries, unless damaging provisions are removed before the deal is sealed.




The negotiations are being conducted in secret, but leaked documents reveal that the United States is pushing for stringent intellectual property protections for drugs. These protections could give pharmaceutical companies longer monopolies over brand name drugs. This would allow them to charge high prices for longer periods of time and either stop or delay the generic competition from producing less expensive versions that are vital to global health.

Medicines shouldn’t be a luxury. Time is running out to change a trade deal that could jeopardize people’s access to affordable medicines.

As a medical humanitarian organization working in nearly 70 countries, MSF is concerned about the impact the deal will have on public health in developing countries where the organization works, and beyond. MSF urges the U.S. government to withdraw – and other TPP negotiating countries such as Canada to reject – rules that threaten to dismantle internationally-agreed public health safeguards and restrict access to medicines in developing countries.


More updates on the TPP from MSF's Access Campaign:


Medicines Shouldn't be a Luxury



Médecins Sans Frontières responds to leak of Trans-Pacific Partnership text on Wikileaks

On October 16, 2014, WikiLeaks published a revised copy of the intellectual property chapter from the secret TPP negotiations. The leaked document — dated May 2014 — also discloses countries’ current negotiating positions. Wikileaks had released an earlier version of the IP chapter in November 2013. 

The initial leak of the secret text confirmed that the U.S. government continued to steamroll its trading partners in the face of steadfast opposition over terms that will severely restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of people. The U.S.refused to back down from dangerous provisions that will impede timely access to affordable medicines. 

A preliminary review of the newly leaked text confirms that MSF’s serious concerns about the TPP’s public health impact remain valid: Some of the most damaging intellectual property provisions remain in the text.  Adopting the text in its current form will negatively affect affordable access to medicines and the health of millions of people across the Asia-Pacific region. 

It’s encouraging to see that some governments, including Canada, Chile, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, are pushing back against some aspects of the U.S. position with their own proposal that better protects access to medicines. What is troubling is that the text also shows that some countries are willing to give in to the U.S. government’s damaging demands. MSF urges countries to stand strong to ensure that the harmful terms are removed before this deal is finalized.
Sign the petition to tell Prime Minister Harper to stand firm against the U.S. position on the TPP, and reject damaging provisions that could make this agreement the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines.


Op-ed: Keeping medicines affordable for all

Canada cannot allow the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks to undermine global access and innovation in medicines.

By Rachel Kiddell-Monroe and Stephen Cornish, Originally published in Policy Options, July 2013

The closed-door negotiations to draft the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement include discussions that could severely restrict access to affordable life-saving medicines for millions of people, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Leaked drafts of the US negotiating positions on the TPP purport to show that Washington is seeking to roll back international public health safeguards in favour of more aggressive protection for intellectual property. These protectionist provisions would buttress the American pharmaceutical industry against competition, an extension of the industry’s long-running campaign that will jeopardize access to price-lowering generic drugs and stifle innovation in public health. And because President Barack Obama has referred to the TPP as a “model not just for countries in the Pacific region, but for the world generally,” there is the alarming possibility that the deal’s intellectual property provisions will set a dangerous precedent and weaken access to medicines worldwide. (Read more)