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Trade Enhancing Access to Medicines

Today at Round 8 of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Chicago, IL, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued a white paper outlining a new USTR strategic initiative entitled “Trade Enhancing Access to Medicines (TEAM).” TEAM is designed to deploy the tools of trade policy to promote trade and reduce obstacles to access to both innovative and generic medicines, while supporting the innovation that is vital to developing new medicines and achieving other medical breakthroughs.

The white paper describes how, under the TEAM approach, the United States proposes to work with partners Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam to achieve the following goals in a TPP agreement:

  • Expedite access to innovative and generic medicines through a “TPP access window”

  • Enhance legal certainty for manufacturers of generic medicines

  • Eliminate tariffs on medicines

  • Reduce customs obstacles to medicines

  • Curb trade in counterfeit medicines

  • Reduce internal barriers to distribution of medicines

  • Promote transparency and procedural fairness

  • Minimize unnecessary regulatory barriers

  • Reaffirm TPP Parties’ commitment to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health

“The truth is, trade policy by itself can’t address all the challenges of access to medicines, but we believe trade policy can be a meaningful component of the Obama Administration’s broad effort to promote that access,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “These Trans-Pacific Partnership proposals will help to drive access to innovative and generic medicines, through tariff cuts, intellectual property provisions, and a host of other measures that will help to boost the availability of life-saving innovative and generic medicines to people throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are expected to continue in Chicago through September 15.