Ready To Pay More For Your Medications? Why Doctors Without Borders Is Lobbying Against Obama’s Trade Deal

Health Care in America

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to )

The physicians group warns that secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership would lock in high drug prices.

By Dylan Scott
National Journal (5/10/15)

President Obama’s pending trade deal has attracted plenty of critics, but one might be more surprising than the rest: Doctors Without Borders, the humanitarian organization better known for swooping into epidemic-struck countries than lobbying officials in Washington.

The physicians group has quietly been opposing the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership for a few years now, but its efforts are growing more public. It sent multiple letters to Obama in the past few months, as the congressional debate about giving the president fast-track authority has ramped up, warning about the implications for drug costs in other countries. And it is putting up subway ads on the D.C. Metro.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning group frequently does policy work in developing countries, said Judit Rius Sanjuan, who oversees Doctors Without Borders’ drug access campaign in the United States, in a phone interview. But such a robust effort here “is not usual practice for us.”

“It’s not usual business for us, and the reason is because we’re very worried,” she said. “We are doing anything we can to make sure the public is aware.”

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