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ETUC - European Trade Union Confederation : Trade unions express ‘grave concerns’ over EU-US trade agreement

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12/18/2013 | 05:38pm EDT

Proposals by the US on medicines and medical equipment in two new global trade deals could threaten national health systems, international trade unions are warning.

In a letter addressed to the European Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, and the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ICTU) have written to express their concerns that US proposals in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) will "needlessly burden national health systems and increase the cost borne by patients."

International trade unions are warning against a repeat of the US-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS), which guaranteed input from producers on pricing decisions.

Under this procedure, manufacturers acquire the ability to appeal decisions made by health authorities regarding the values of pharmaceutical products and demand an increased amount of reimbursement, the letter warns.

"It is imperative that these trade and investment agreements result in increased savings for patients and national budgets instead of further enriching a few pharmaceutical and medical corporations. Public health, as well as access to affordable medicines and healthcare, are human rights that should be strengthened, not undermined, by trade arrangements," states the joint letter.

 The ETUC's positions on TTIP are available here:http://www.etuc.org/r/529

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