In October 2015, as President Barack Obama was hoping to rush the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal through Congress, he invited leaders of the pharmaceutical industry to the White House. The industry had emerged as a key obstacle to the largest free trade agreement in history, insisting that TPP didn’t provide enough protection for an expensive class of nature-based drugs called biologics.
In fact, Obama’s negotiators had already fought hard to protect U.S. drug manufacturers in the TPP deal, securing protections that almost all the other 11 TPP nations opposed. For biologic drugs, they had won eight years of market exclusivity, insulating American-made name-brand products from competition from generic knockoffs.
Global aid groups were denouncing the provision as a corporate giveaway that would limit access to medicine in the developing world. But pharma was still demanding 12 years of exclusivity in Asia, to match the protections it already had in the U.S., and Senate Republicans were refusing to move TPP without the industry on board. Click here to read more.