A Dose of the TPP's Medicine

Why U.S. Trade Deals Haven't Exported U.S. Drug Prices

Various medicine pills in their original packaging are seen in Ljubljana, February 14, 2012. Srdjan Zivulovic / Reuters

Pharmaceuticals are at the center of the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as they have been for every recent U.S. trade deal. Democrat Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and current presidential candidate, has highlighted overly generous terms for drug companies as one of the main reasons she opposes the TPP. Republican Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said that the TPP does not match the incentives for drug research that exist in U.S. law, which may justify waiting for a new president to negotiate a better deal. Meanwhile, both health activists and drug companies oppose the TPP, as they have three of the last four U.S. trade deals.

Underlying the fight over trade and medicines is an assumption held by both sides of the debate: that the drug patents and other guarantees of exclusivity in recent U.S. trade deals will operate

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