U.S. trade agreements are endangering public health systems in developing countries by driving up the cost of lifesaving drugs, according to a new study by the British relief agency Oxfam.

Reuters via Yahoo:

Strong intellectual property protections in U.S. free trade deals have hurt developing countries, pushing up drug prices in Jordan by 20 percent, an aid advocacy group said in a report released on Tuesday.

Beefed-up property rights for drug makers, which have been built into U.S. free trade deals like the one with Jordan, “will make it harder and harder to sustain public health systems,” said Rohit Malpani, a trade analyst with the advocacy group Oxfam in Washington.

U.S. trade officials disputed the report’s findings, saying the trade agreements fairly balanced intellectual property protections and health care needs.

The Oxfam report found that drug prices in Jordan have increased by 20 percent since 2001, when the bilateral deal with the United States was implemented, and are up to six times higher than comparable drug prices in Egypt.

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