Patients may suffer if New Zealand's interests are not
protected in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA),
senior academics and doctors warn in an open letter to Health
Minister Tony Ryall.
The 60 signatories include University of Otago
pro-vice-chancellor of health sciences Prof Peter Crampton,
and Dunedin Medical School professor of surgery John McCall.
Negotiators hope to sign a deal by the end of this year, and
a crucial four-day negotiating meeting in Singapore ends
''We have serious concerns that the partnership agreement
will cause patients to suffer and will load governments with
additional, unreasonable costs for medical technologies (both
new and existing),'' the letter said.
The letter voices fears New Zealand might agree to water down
Pharmac's ability to negotiate, making medicines more
Also of concern was the high level of secrecy around the
''We are writing to express our deep dismay that the
Government might consider making such decisions when there
has been no public disclosure of the draft text, nor any
opportunity to analyse provisions that may have a negative
impact on the health of the New Zealand population.
''We are concerned also there may be other provisions that
pose risks to public health and will not be identified unless
there is an opportunity for open scrutiny prior to finalising
The letter warns against prohibitions on further regulation
of tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy foods, and the built
environment, as it would compromise New Zealand's ability to
improve public health.
Clauses that could harm Pharmac included delaying the market
entry of generic drugs, and extending drug patent terms.
''The leaked intellectual property chapter showed the US was
making proposals that would require significant changes to
New Zealand law and undermine Pharmac's ability to negotiate
on pharmaceutical prices for the New Zealand health sector.''
The letter urges Mr Ryall to ensure Trade Minister Tim Groser
rejects any proposals requiring changes to New Zealand law or
A spokeswoman for Mr Ryall, when contacted, recommended the
Otago Daily Times contact Mr Groser for comment.
The TPPA is a proposed free trade deal involving 12
countries, including the United States.
Benefits of the TPPA cited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and Trade included eliminating tariffs, reducing compliance
costs for exporters, opportunities to access government
procurement contracts, and reduced barriers to investment.