The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, intellectual property and medicines: Differential outcomes for developed and developing countries
Abstract: The final text of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), agreed between the 12 negotiating countries in 2016, included a suite of intellectual property provisions intended to expand and extend pharmaceutical company exclusivities on medicines. It drew wide criticism for including such provisions in an agreement that involved developing countries (Vietnam, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, Chile and Brunei Darussalam) because of the effect on delaying the introduction of low-cost generics. While developing nations negotiated transition periods for implementing some obligations, all parties would have eventually been expected to meet the same standards had the TPP come into force. While the TPP has stalled following US withdrawal, there are moves by some of the remaining countries to reinvigorate the agreement without the United States. The proponents may seek to retain as much as possible of the original text in the hope that the United States will re-join the accord in future. This article presents a comparative analysis of the impact the final 2016 TPP intellectual property chapter could be expected to have (if implemented in its current form) on the intellectual property laws and regulatory regimes for medicines in the TPP countries. Drawing on the published literature, it traces the likely impact on access to medicines. It focuses particularly on the differential impact on regulatory frameworks for developed and developing nations (in terms of whether or not legislative action would have been required to implement the agreement). The article also explores the political and economic dynamics that contributed to these differential outcomes.