Top Dem: Trade Deal Could Restrict Access to Cheaper Medicines

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, says a new trade deal could be a “major step backwards” on access to affordable medicines.

In an op-ed Thursday, Levin raised concerns that the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which the U.S. is negotiating, will curtail access to generic drugs.

“Is TPP the most progressive trade agreement in history?” Levin wrote in The Huffington Post, referring to a claim made by President Obama, who backs the emerging deal. “Not if you need access to affordable medicines.”

Levin raises his concerns as the fight over fast-track trade authority, which would expand Obama’s powers to negotiate the deal, heads to the House. The issue is splitting Obama and many congressional Democrats, who are wary of the pact.

Levin has proposed an alternative to fast-track with specific negotiating instructions to address problems he sees with TPP.