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Taking Care of Business (Interests), It's a Bipartisan Cause

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While the GOP and Democratic conventions highlight the differences between the parties, there are some bipartisan issues -- and one of the biggest is taking care of corporate interests.

One example of this is the massive push by PhRMA, BIO and their member companies to have a provision in a new trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that would mandate governments to grant 12 years of monopoly rights in data used to register biologic drugs. This is a controversial intellectual property right in U.S. law that exists in addition to other IPR the companies have, including patent rights. The Obama White House has yet to endorse the 12 year exclusive right in the TPP negotiations, in part because the Administration is seeking to change the U.S. law from 12 to 7 years, in a budget that seeks to shave outlays on expensive new drugs. Public health and development groups oppose the exclusive rights in test data for the U.S., but also warn that it will be particularly harsh for developing countries. Once the 12 year exclusive right is put into a major trade agreement, it will be very difficult to change the U.S. law, and developing countries will have another major barrier to affordable medicines. (More on the the issue here).

PhRMA has recently published a "Note to Media on Elected Officials Support for 12 Years of Data Protection in TPP." These are the letters from Members of Congress that PhRMA cites as supporting their position, calling for a requirement of 12 years of exclusive rights for test data protection in the TPP negotiations. Note that PhRMA/BIO support is deeply bipartisan, including many Democratic liberals such as Ed Markey, Patty Murray, John Kerry etc.

The level of engagement by members of Congress and governors the 12 year test data issue illustrates both how dependent upon and corrupted by corporate campaign money is the Congress, and how little U.S. political figures care about people living in developing countries, where this policy is expected to have the greatest harm.

2012

August 10, 2012. Eight U.S. Governors (Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington) write President Obama calling for 12 years of protection for biologics test data in TPP.

This is a quote from the letter:

Given the substantial complexities of bringing biologics to market and the significant investment required to establish, and sustain development, it is critical that the TPP include 12 years of biologics data protection as found in U.S. law.

Among those signing the letter were five democrat (Mike Beebe D-Arkansas, John Hickenlooper D-Colorado, Deval Patrick D-Massachusetts, Bev Perdue D-North Carolina, Chris Gregoire D-Washington) and three GOP (Terry Branstad R-Iowa, Chris Christie R-New Jersey, Mary Fallin R-Oklahoma) governors.

August 6, 2012. Letter from Senator Claire McCaskill to President Obama, calling for 12 years of biologics data protection in TPP.

July 13, 2012. Letter from eight democratic members of Massachusetts Delegation to House of Representatives calling for 12 years of biologics test data protection in TPP. Signing the letter were Ed Markey (D, MA-7), Richard E. Neal (D, MA-2), John W. Olver (D, MA-1), James P McGovern (D, MA-3), John F. Tierney (D, MA-6), Stephen Lynch (D, MA-9), Niki Tsongas (D, MA-5), William Keating (D, MA-10).

July 12, 2012. Letter from Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), calling for "robust intellectual property rights for biologics" including 12 years of biologics data protection in TPP.

May 11, 2012. Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) Letter calling for 12 years of test data protection for biologcs in TPP.

May 4, 2012. TPP Letter from Senators Kay Hutchison (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX), calling for 12 years for biologics data protection in TPP.

May 3, 2012. Letter from Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Chistopher Coons (D-DE), calling for 12 years for biologics data protection in the TPP.

2011

September 12, 2011. Letter from 37 members of the U.S. Senate, beginning with Senators Hatch and Kerry, to Ambassador Kirk, calling for 12 years of data protection for biologics in TPP.

From the letter:

As you are aware, U.S. law provides for a 12-year term of regulatory data protection for biologics and we believe that should serve as the baseline for the administration's objectives for this aspect of the negotiation. This 12-year term was the result of careful deliberations in which the U.S. Congress arrived at a bipartisan consensus taking into account and weighing many factors. It is our view that the agreed upon term of protection best supports the Congress' goals of maintaining the nation's competitiveness as the leading innovator of biologics products, increasing the number of high-value jobs, and improving access to safe and affordable medicines by creating a clear pathway for the regulatory approval of biosimilar drugs.

Because intellectual property rights are a cornerstone for job creation and American competitiveness, we urge you to ensure that the U.S. negotiators are given clear instructions to attain this negotiating objective.

I found 4 signatures not legible. Among the 33 that I could make out, there were 13 Democrats and 20 Republicans, including both senators from eight states (CA, DE, IN, MA, MS, NJ, WA, WY). Among those signing, in the order they appear on the letter, are: Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), John F. Kerry (D-MA), John Kyl (R-AZ), Kay R. Hagan (D-NC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Barbara Ann Mikulski (D-MD), Scott P Brown (R-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL) , Maria Cantwell (D-WA), [signature illegible], Tom Carper (D-DE), Robert Portman (R-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael B. Enzi (R-WY), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Boozman (R-AR) , [signature illegible], Pat Roberts (R-KS), Frank R.Lautenberg (D-NJ), Dick Lugar (R-IN), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Barrasso (R-WY), [signature illegible], Kay Baily Hutchison (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-ND), Jack Reed (D-RI), [signature illegible], Thad Cochran (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK),

September 12, 2011. Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Michael Bennet D-CO), calling for 12 years of biologics data protection in TPP.

July 27, 2011. 40 members of House of Representatives call for 12 years of biologics data protection in TPP.

May 27, 2011. TPP Letter from Governors of seven states (Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington State) calling for "very strong" intellectual property protections for biopharamceutical sector.

May 17, 2011. 28 Members of U.S. Senate, beginning with Senators Hatch and Cantwell, call for "high standards" for IPR protection in TPP, modeled after KOR/US FTA.

February 18, 2011. Representative Donald A. Manzullo (R, IL-16), on TPP IPR protections, focusing also on New Zealand pricing of pharmaceutical drugs.

February 14, 2011. 18 members of House Judiciary Committee ask for "highest level of protection" in TPP IPR Chapter, based upon KOR/US FTA.

US Senators on record supporting 12 years of protection for biologics data in TPP
  1. Bennet, Michael, D, CO, September 12, 2011 (Colorado Senators letters)
  2. Boxer, Barbara, D, CA, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  3. Cantwell, Maria, D, WA, July 12, 2012 letter, and September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  4. Carper, Tom, D, DE, May 3, 2012, and September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  5. Casey, Jr., Bob, D, PA, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  6. Coons, Chris, D, DE, May 3, 2012, and September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  7. Fienstein, Dianne, D, CA, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  8. Hagan, Kay R., D, NC, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  9. Kerry, John F., D, MA, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  10. McCaskill, Claire, D, MO, August 6, 2012 letter
  11. Menendez, Robert, D, NJ, May 11, 2012, and September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  12. Mikulski, Barbara Ann, D, MD, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  13. Murray, Patty, D, WA, July 12, 2012 letter, and September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  14. R.Lautenberg, Frank, D, NJ, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  15. Reed, Jack, D, RI, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  16. Udall, Mark, D, CO, September 12, 2011 (Colorado Senators letters)
  17. Barrasso, John, R, WY, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  18. Blunt, Roy, R, MO, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  19. Boozman, John, R, AR , September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  20. Brown, Scott P., R, MA, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  21. Coats, Dan, R, IN, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  22. Cochran, Thad, R, MS, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  23. Cornyn, John, R, TX, May 4, 2012 letter
  24. Crapo, Mike, R, ID, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  25. Enzi, Michael B., R, WY, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  26. Grassley, Chuck, R, IA, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  27. Hatch, Orrin G., R, UT, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  28. Hutchison, Kay Baily, R, TX, May 4, 2012 letter, and September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  29. Inhofe, James, R, OK, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  30. Kirk, Mark, R, IL, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  31. Kyl, John, R, AZ, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  32. Lugar, Dick, R, IN, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  33. Portman, Robert, R, OH, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  34. Roberts, Pat, R, KS, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  35. Rubio, Marco, R, FL, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  36. Thune, John, R, ND, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  37. Wicker, Roger, R, MS, September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  38. [signature illegible], September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  39. [signature illegible], September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  40. [signature illegible], September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators
  41. [signature illegible], September 12, 2012 letter with 37 Senators

This post is part of the HuffPost Shadow Conventions 2012, a series spotlighting three issues that are not being discussed at the national GOP and Democratic conventions: The Drug War, Poverty in America, and Money in Politics.

HuffPost Live will be taking a comprehensive look at the corrupting influence of money on our politics August 29th and September 5th from 12-4 pm ET and 6-10 pm ET. Click here to check it out -- and join the conversation.

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