A brief by the Sunlight Foundation looks at which industries have lobbied the most in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. The author, Lee Drutman, notes that lobbying for the TPP began in 2009, four years before the TPP was on the radar screen of most Americans. Getting a jump on the issue, in 2009 alone, 28 organizations filed a total of 59 lobbying reports that mentioned the TPP and almost half of those organizations were either pharmaceutical companies or pharmaceutical organizations.
Here is a graphic that shows the top 20 industries that have lobbied in favour of the TPP by the number of lobbying reports filed through to the middle of 2013:
The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry filed just over 250 reports. In distant second place was the automotive industry which filed 101 reports followed by clothing and accessories which filed 89 reports and milk and dairy products which filed 82 reports.
Here is a graphic that shows the top 20 organizations that have lobbied in favour of the TPP by the number of lobbying reports filed through to the middle of 2013
Once again, the pharmaceutical industry takes top spot with PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America which represents America's largest pharmaceutical companies) in first place with 44 reports and multinational drug corporation, Pfizer, in second place with 42 reports. The Chamber of Commerce comes in third place with 34 reports and the Dairy Farmers of America come in fourth place, tied with the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and Yahoo! Inc. with 29 reports each. In total, of the top twenty filing organizations, four are connected to the pharmaceutical industry with a total of 135 reports associated with lobbying in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In addition, Sunlight Foundation examines the top organizations that have written the most public comment letters to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative regarding the TPP. According to Docket Wrench, the pharmaceutical industry through PhRMA has written 7 comments to the USTR as shown on this table:
The documents submitted include this letter commenting on negotiating efforts that should be made with respect to the participation of Japan and its massive market for pharmaceuticals (the second largest in the world) in the TPP:
Note the mention of "intellectual property protection", a key part of the TPP for Big Pharma.
Obviously, Big Pharma has made significant efforts to get in on the early stages of the TPP negotiations and debate so that it can impact the deal in its favour. In a letter from Brian Toohey of PhRMA to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative dated January 25, 2010, Big Pharma throws its considerable weight around with these comments:
Mr. Toohey also notes that the average biopharmaceutical employee paid approximately three times the amounts of federal and tax paid, on average, by employees across all other sectors (2006 data) and that Big Pharma contributed $294.6 billion to GDP in 2006 or 2.2 percent of total GDP in that year.
Currently, provisions within the TPP would expand patent rights for Big Pharma, an issue that was of concern in the aforementioned letter. Obviously, all of that lobbying has paid for itself. One of the provisions in the TPP would allow for "patent term extensions" that would protect big company patents beyond the current 20 year limit. This will prevent smaller generic drug manufacturers from bringing much more affordable generic brand medicines to the market. The terms of the TPP will also allow pharmaceutical companies to re-patent existing drugs for developing "new uses".
With the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership taking place behind closed doors, Main Street America has no control over the ultimate content of the deal, a massive trade deal that could, in the case of pharmaceuticals, be extremely expensive for consumers over the long-term.
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