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TPPA: Drug Prices to Rise, Malaysia in the Clutches of Foreign Companies

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 29: While it is not in the spotlight, the TPPA issue or the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will have an impact on the lives of Malaysians such as the GST (Goods and Services Tax) issue.

According to a medical law expert in a forum recently, when TPPA is enforced, it can cause drug prices to go up, because medicines of generic brands will be produced late.

Meanwhile, another economist claimed that TPPA can give rights to foreign companies to sue the Malaysian Government to claim losses, even though the government acts in the interest of Malaysians.

The experts said this at a Forum entitled ‘Is TPPA a Modern Shape of American Colonization’ here at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) recently.

The matter was reported by the coordinator of Blindspot, Anas Alam Faizli, an organiser of the said forum in a media statement here.

Panelist, Fima Rahman, an Expert on Medical Law, said that the rising prices of medicines under the TPPA are due to the extension of patent or copyright duration of branded drugs.

For example, a branded drug for cancer is sold at the expensive price of RM9,600 to RM10,000.

However, TPPA will make it difficult for cheaper generic drugs to be produced.

PAS Economist, Dr Rosli Yaakob said that the Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in TPPA is expected to be in favour of investors alone in court cases.

For example, Dr Rosli said that the United States and Peru have signed a free trade agreement (FTA) containing ISDS.

In a dispute between the US and the government of Peru, the company sued the Peru government for USD4.2 billion even though the company has clearly been polluting the rivers with chemicals which have killed the people of Peru, especially children.

“Even companies such as LYNAS can also sue the Malaysian government if environment agencies restrict their operation by enforcement of environment regulations.

“This means that the law for public health and safety will fall secondary to the agreement,” said Dr Rosli.

According to Anas, TPPA negotiations will be held in Kota Kinabalu on July 15 – 22 and the agreement is expected to be signed in October 2013.

The forum was organised by Blindspot together with the Malaysian Malay Chamber of Commerce, the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), Ikram and sever other NGOs, and also featured Trade Specialist from the University of Malaya, Prof Dr Nazari Ismail.


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