Shedding Light in the Darkness

How Corporations Try To Run The World


We have only been able to follow details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations (it’s kind of tough because it’s been kept secret), through info revealed by WikiLeaks. The latest leak concerns a pharmaceutical clause.

Newly revealed details of the draft show the TPP would give major pharmaceutical companies more power over public access to medicine, and weaken public healthcare programs. The leaked draft also suggests the TPP would prevent the US Congress from passing reforms to lower drug costs.

One of the drug company’s practices that would be allowed is known as “evergreening.” It lets drug companies extend the life of a patent by slightly modifying their product and then getting a new patent. Thus they can keep reaping enormous profits.

The agreement “will increase the cost of medicines worldwide, starting with the 12 countries that are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Judit Rius Sanjuan, a lawyer at Doctors Without Borders, in the New York Times.

Analysis published by WikiLeaks shows that the drug draft appears to be designed to cripple New Zealand’s strong public healthcare program (which keeps drug costs down) and to inhibit the adoption of similar programs in developing countries.

Another provision allows pharmaceutical companies to sue governments directly over their pharmaceutical policies in international tribunals using the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS). This is the same type of legal avenue that tobacco giant Philip Morris is using to sue Australia over their plain packaging laws, and also trying to stop Uruguay from implementing new tobacco regulations intended to cut smoking rates; and drug giant Eli Lilly is using to sue Canada over its decisions on medicine patents.

Other examples of ISDS cases includes a French company that sued Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage, a Swedish company that sued Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, and a Dutch company that sued the Czech Republic because the Czechs didn’t bail out a bank that the company partially owned.

Senator Elizabeth Warren suggested in the Washington Post: “If a final TPP agreement includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement, the only winners will be multinational corporations.”


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