House Democrats urge quick access to generic drugs in pending trade deal

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Brand-name drugmakers favor a different policy in the negotiations between the U.S and eight countries in Asia and Latin America: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug lobby, wants the exclusivity period to begin in each country when approval for a drug is received in that country.

"You need to balance making sure countries get access and the need to ensure an adequate climate for innovation," argues the drug lobby Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

In their letter, House Democrats write that the brand-name drug industry's stance would be a move backward from a more generous Free Trade Agreement signed in 2006 with Peru. And they argue that such a policy would put U.S. taxpayers on the hook because the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief pays the treatment costs for 31,000 people with HIV/AIDS in Vietnam.

"There would be significant concern if action through TPP could delay access to generic medicines which may result in higher costs to the U.S. government … or could result in removing patients from treatment," they write. PhRMA disputes that the regional trade agreement would have any impact on PEPFAR.

The letter is signed by ranking members Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Energy and Commerce; Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Ways and Means; John Conyers (D-Mich), Judiciary; and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

This post was updated at 7:20 p.m. with comment from PhRMA