The Potential Impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on public health

Epidemiol Prev. Mar-Apr 2016;40(2):95-102. doi: 10.19191/EP16.2.AD01.037.

Abstract

This article aims to examine the potential health effects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP). Our review indicates that, although proponents of the TTIP claim that the treaty will produce benefits to health-enhancing determinants such as economic growth and employment, evidence shows that previous trade liberalization policies are associated with increasing economic inequities. By reducing Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and by promoting increased cooperation between US and EU governmental agencies in the pharmaceutical sector, the TTIP could result in improved research cooperation and reduced duplication of processes. However, the TTIP chapter on Intellectual Property (IP) and Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that expand and extend patent monopolies, and delay the availability of generic drugs, are likely to cause underutilization of needed medications among vulnerable populations. The TTIP's Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) arbitration system, a mechanism that allows transnational companies (TNCs) to sue governments when a policy or law reduces the value of their investment, is likely to generate a negative impact on regulations aimed at increasing access to healthcare, and reducing tobacco, alcohol consumption, and diet-related diseases. The Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) of the TTIP is expected to weaken regulations in the food and agricultural sectors especially in the EU, with potentially negative effects on food safety and foodborne diseases. Finally, the ISDS is likely to infringe the ability of governments to tackle environmental problems such as climate change deemed to be the most important global health threat of the century. Our review concludes by discussing policy implications and the effect of the TTIP on democracy, national sovereignty and the balance of power between large TNCs and governments. It also discusses the adoption of an evidence-based precautionary principle approach in dealing with the health impact of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) as well as the harmonization of regulations, norms, and standards toward stronger health and environmental protection.

MeSH terms

  • Commerce / economics*
  • Commerce / organization & administration
  • Economic Competition*
  • European Union
  • Health Impact Assessment*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Italy
  • Public Health* / economics
  • Public Health* / standards
  • Quality of Health Care / standards
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States