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The Chamber has named as one of its top priorities the passage of “Fast Track,” which would allow the executive branch to negotiate and sign “trade” agreements before Congress gets to vote on them. Today’s agreements cover much more than trade, imposing binding rules on domestic healthcare reforms, climate initiatives, immigration policies, food and product safety standards, financial regulations and other public interest policies. Fast Track would empower the executive branch to write legislation altering this wide swath of U.S. domestic laws to conform to the terms of the pact, limiting Congress’ role to an expedited vote with amendments prohibited and debate restricted.
The Chamber wants Fast Track because it knows that it is only through such an extraordinary binding of Congress’ oversight that it could hope to see enactment of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The Chamber has peddled deeply misleading arguments to push the TPP while neglecting to mention that the pact would give corporations the power to “sue” sovereign countries, including the United States, over their health, environmental and other policies.
The TPP also includes major handouts to pharmaceutical corporations that would put lives at risk by jacking up medicine costs. Leaked TPP texts show that the pact would enable pharmaceutical companies to: 1) extend their monopoly drug patents beyond 20 years, blocking access to more affordable generic drugs; 2) re-patent medicines without actually inventing anything new; and 3) even patent basic medical procedures. By forcing patients to wait longer for low-cost versions of patented drugs, these protections for Big Pharma would lead to preventable suffering and death around the world. In addition, the TPP’s terms threaten policies used in the United States and abroad to control rising drug prices, reduce government expenditures and make healthcare more affordable for retirees, low-income families and veterans.
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