A new report by the Geneva Network titled “Trading for Health: Quantifying the Impact of Free Trade Agreements on Health Outcomes” recently called into question many claims being made by groups opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Among the report’s most interesting conclusions, the authors found that trade openness and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) actually improved health outcomes.
In particular, the study notes that several FTAs in the last 15 years contain intellectual property (IP) provisions for innovative biopharmaceuticals that are more robust than the minimums established in the TRIPS agreement, and disproved claims that stronger IP protections have undermined access to medicines.
In fact, the study demonstrates that past FTAs have had positive health outcomes in the participating countries, which the authors measured in terms of infant mortality, life expectancy and deaths from non-communicable diseases. The study also finds that trade openness and FTAs did not result in increased out-of-pocket health care spending, and that FTAs should be judged by and recognized for their overall socio-economic benefits.
The Geneva Network report is the latest of a number of reports that compellingly refute many of the arguments against including biopharmaceutical IP provisions in the TPP that reflect U.S. standards. As negotiators from the 12 participating countries in the TPP seek to wrap up talks in the coming weeks, they would be well served to take note of the positive impact that innovative biopharmaceutical companies have had on global patient health. A TPP agreement that encourages continued development of cures for the world’s deadliest and costliest diseases will benefit both patients and economies, in the TPP and beyond.