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Commentary

Are Free-Trade Agreements Good for Your Health?
Benedict Irvine, Andres Mejia-Vergnaud, Wall Street Journal Asia, 9-10-04

Activists have taken the U.S. to task for a number of recent bilateral free-trade agreements that protect intellectual property rights for pharmaceuticals. The authors note that the activists scare tactics are unwarranted and completely miss the point that protections for intellectual property rights are associated with increased access to new pharmaceuticals and new investment.

"By protecting intellectual property, FTAs encourage innovative product launches by local pharmaceutical industries. Since the U.S.-Jordan FTA, for example, there have been more than 30 new product launches in Jordan." In time, the authors hope, free trade might just "enable some poor countries to rise their per-capita health spending to the threshold level of about $65, above which real population health gains can be made."



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