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Tobacco, medicines dominate TPPA forum

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s request for tobacco to not be part of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations and fears over the higher cost of medication dominated the floor at a forum discussing the trade agreement.

Forum participants railed against the opacity of the negotiations, a US-led initiative including 11 other nations on both sides of the Pacific at the forum on Thursday.

Participants wanted to know why, despite health warnings even in the United States, Malaysia’s suggestion for tobacco to be ‘carved out’ of the trade talks have not yielded any results.

The forum was interrupted midway when two persons from a patient-advocacy group unfurled a banner protesting against the perceived threat that the agreement would bring to medicine costs.

The chapter on intellectual property rights remains one of the most contentious of the outstanding issues with opponents of the TPPA arguing that medicine costs would go up as pharmaceutical firms extend the shelf-life of their patents

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