Big Pharma battle threatens to delay Pacific trade pact
SINGAPORE (AFP) - A US-led Pacific free trade pact faces further delays as a row between Big Pharma and activists supporting access to generic drugs erupts ahead of an October deadline, officials say.
Negotiators from the United States and 10 other countries are holding closed-door talks in Singapore from March 4-13 on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as they race to seal an accord.
"It's getting tougher and more challenging towards the end. There might be some problems in meeting that deadline, October 2013," Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed told the Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore after the talks opened.
Activists pushing for greater public access to cheap generics are sparring with the pharmaceuticals industry, which was worth US$355 billion (S$442 billion) in 2010 among the 11 countries involved in the talks, with US firms accounting for 80 per cent of the market.