The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and Access to HIV Treatment in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo by Lieu Cap via Unsplash.

The 1994 Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) removed the option for member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to exclude pharmaceutical patents. It also required members to introduce other limitations on pharmaceutical competition, such as protection for ‘test’ data submitted to support regulatory approval. Concerns have been raised that provisions in recent trade agreements may further reduce access to medicines, especially for developing countries. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was of particular concern at the time of its drafting. 

A journal article in Global Public Health by Hazel V. J. Moir, Brigitte Tenni, Deborah Gleeson and Ruth Lopert estimates the potential impact of the TPP on access to HIV treatment in Vietnam. Using the current Vietnamese intellectual property (IP) regime as a base case, the authors analyzed the potential impact of a regime making full use of legal IP flexibilities, and one based on the IP provisions of the final, agreed TPP text. 

The findings indicate that at current funding levels, 82 percent  of Vietnam’s eligible people living with HIV would receive antiretrovirals (ARVs) if legal flexibilities were fully utilized. Under the TPP agreement, as few as 30 percent  would have access to ARVs, more than halving the proportion currently treated. These findings substantiate the concerns that the TPP would have a damaging effect on access to medicines, particularly in lower-income countries.

Read the Journal Article