Must-Read: Obama Is in a Bind on Drugs That Could Cost Consumers Billions of Dollars: "The Obama administration is caught in a trap as it tries to bring home a trade deal with its Pacific Rim partners...:
...Some of the chief beneficiaries may be big drug companies like Novartis AG, Roche Holding AG, and Pfizer Inc. while the losers could be consumers in both the U.S. and the region. The administration says it’s bound by congressionally imposed instructions to try to get as much current U.S. law as possible into trade accords--including stringent protections for patented drugs that it’s repeatedly tried to ease at home to encourage more cost-saving generics.
The disconnect has put U.S. negotiators in the position of pushing provisions in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership that would preclude the administration from making further attempts to win the legal changes. It also has negotiators pressing the region’s developing countries to sign onto a schedule for adopting the stronger rules, reversing previous exemptions to allow them easier access to cheap medicines.
Even though U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman says the talks are ‘in a closing mode,’ American proposals for tough intellectual-property protections for drugs are meeting resistance from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other Pacific Rim nations. Chile’s foreign minister, for one, has said flatly that his country won’t accept some key provisions.