Global Health Advocates Circle U.S. Capitol, but Senators Advance Toward TPP Trade Deal

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Representing organizations that train and supply health workers in some of the world’s poorest countries, that push for global access to life-saving medicines, and that urge effective responses to infectious diseases, protesters opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership took their message to the streets outside of lawmakers’ offices this morning in an effort to change just a few minds.

At stake was a move in the U.S. Senate to match a House measure last week that would allow the deal, urged by President Obama to be “fast-tracked” without debate or amendment. Targeted were Senators considered strong global health supporters who had voted earlier to advance the trade deal, and who today had a second chance to stop the measure. They included Senators Chris Coons (D-De), Ben Cardin (D-Md), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

“Some want to protect the President, some are in states that are trade dependent,” Paul Davis of Health GAP said this morning.

Objections to the deal include allowances for pharmaceutical companies to maintain monopolies on high-priced drugs by extending patents on medicines to which only superficial changes have been made, and to challenge regulations that interfere with their profits. These components of the deal, revealed in leaked documents, would further limit access to affordable medicines that have allowed progress in recent years in expanded treatment rollout for HIV and tuberculosis among other diseases.

“Hey Senate, you can’t hide! We can see your corporate side,” protesters shouted, to accompaniment that included drums, a vuvuzela, and other home-made noise-makers, as they made the rounds of Senate office buildings. “Vote no on fast-track! We want our democracy back!”

Source: Science Speaks (link opens in a new window)

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