Press Release

Nurses: Senate Vote on Fast Track Puts Public Health at Risk

‘Wall Street, Corporate Giants Hardly Need More Handouts’

The nation’s largest organization of nurses today called the Senate vote to green light the fast track process for corporate-oriented trade pacts an abandonment of critical public health protections that will put lives and public health standards in jeopardy for millions of Americans.

“With this vote, the U.S. Senate, eliminating the ability to amend a deeply flawed trade deal written in secret by corporate lobbyists, has sent an unmistakable message that access to life saving medications and food safety are less important than the profits of the wealthiest corporations in the world,” said Jean Ross, RN, co-president of National Nurses United. "Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce hardly need more handouts."

Behind the vote is fast track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would allow giant pharmaceutical corporations lengthy extensions of monopoly control for high priced brand name drugs – and the ability to block access to cheaper generic drugs that can mean life and death for low and moderate-income patients, many of whom already face un-payable bills for meds and other healthcare.

The TPP would also allow big drug companies exclusive access to the market for 12 years for “biologic” drugs – medicines developed through biological processes – that are increasingly critical for patients fighting cancer, MS, Alzheimer’s disease and many other illnesses. 

In another provision, global corporations under the TPP would be able to challenge and evade U.S. food safety laws and regulation on the use of pesticides and additives on meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables that are stricter than rules in other nations would be threatened as “illegal trade barriers” that could subject American consumers to unsafe food.

TPP would also grant global conglomerates the legal authority to evade or overturn any public health and safety laws that they argue restrict “competition” and their right to unlimited profits in secret, corporate-dominated courts.

NNU, said Ross, endorses the statement by Sen. Bernie Sanders that “the vote today – pushed by multi-national corporations, pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street – will mean a continuation of disastrous trade policies” on issues from health care to environmental standards to jobs that only work for the CEOs and not working people and other Americans.

“Nurses will continue to oppose the TPP and other disgraceful trade agreements, and send our own message to our elected representatives that they will have to answer to all Americans whether they stand with Wall Street, big corporations, or the American people,” Ross said.