Press Release

Nurses: Final TPP Text Even Worse Than Advertised

Handouts to Big Pharma, Corporate Dispute Process Pose Significant Threat to Public Health and Safety

Release of the full text of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade confirms nurses concerns about broad threats to public health and safety in the U.S. and other nations, National Nurses United said today.

“Despite the promises and reassurances offered by the Obama administration, the final text is even worse than prior reports had predicted. No wonder it was concealed for so long,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, NNU Executive Director and a vice-president of the AFL-CIO. “We will continue to demand that Congress reject this fatally flawed agreement, and hold accountable those legislators who vote against the public interest.”

“Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has played a laudable leadership role in long opposing the TPP, and the prior corporate trade deals that have harmed our nation, is again speaking for all of us. All legislators must now step up and join this fight to defeat the TPP.”

Nurses are particularly appalled, DeMoro said, at monopoly pricing protections for giant pharmaceutical firms “that could be a death sentence for countless patients in need of affordable medications around the world,” and the expansion of the ability of corporate giants to use corporate tribunals to seek to overturn public health and safety laws.

When the final agreement was announced last month, initial reports suggested a major “compromise” by the U.S. in reducing monopoly pricing rules for drug giants from 12 years, what the U.S. had first demanded, to five years, particularly for biologic medications, drugs derived from living organisms.

But an analysis of the final text shows those rules littered with loopholes, allowing the U.S. to pressure TPP signers to expand the monopoly control – and their inflated prices – for eight years or longer, according to a review by the Citizens Trade Campaign.

Patent exclusivity rules, that affect when cheaper, generic versions of high priced name brand drugs, can go on the market, can produce long delays in access to affordable medicines, under the TPP.

“These gifts to the billionaire drug companies are a cruel and disgraceful threat to the lives of millions of people,” DeMoro said. “The pretext of giving the pharmaceutical corporations expanded monopoly control to ‘repay’ them for research and development costs is particularly hollow considering that a substantial percentage of those costs are paid for with public funds with drugs developed at public universities.”

NNU is also appalled at the provisions regarding the so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement ISDS process that allow global corporations to sue to overturn laws and regulations, including public safety and environmental protections. 

As has already occurred with prior trade deals, the ISDS process allows corporations to challenge domestic laws through extrajudicial tribunals, staffed by corporate attorneys, that can demand taxpayers reimburse corporations for lost “expected” profits. In prior trade pacts, this provision has forced some countries to drop health, safety, or environmental rules rather than face bankruptcy from billion dollar ISDS rulings.

As the Citizens Trade Campaign analysis shows, the TPP would actually “expand U.S. liability by widening the scope of domestic policies and government actions that could be challenged” under ISDS rules. “More than 1,000 additional corporations in TPP nations, which own more than 9,200 subsidiaries here, could newly launch ISDS cases against the U.S. government.”

Further, contrary to the insistence of TPP proponents, “there are no new safeguards that limit ISDS tribunals’ discretion to issue ever-expanding interpretations of government’s obligations to investors and order compensation on that basis,” says CTC.

“This agreement,” DeMoro concluded, “is an all out assault on not only health and safety but also on the democratic rights of the American people to pass public protections. It’s another reminder that the pharmaceutical industry and other corporate lobbyists, who wrote many of these provisions, continue to dominate and corrupt our political system.”

“Nurses and working people will not be silent in working to stop and overturn this dangerous agreement,” DeMoro said.