Press Release – Patricia Ranald

Abbott Government caves in to US demands on stronger patents and higher prices for medicines in TPP talksAbbott Government caves in to US demands on stronger patents and higher prices for medicines in TPP talks

A report from the Singapore TPP talks today in the specialized US trade journal, The Washington Trade Daily, claims that Australia, New Zealand and Canada have agreed to drop their objections to US proposals on medicines in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks due to finish in Singapore today,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said today.

“This would mean that the Australian Government has agreed to extreme US demands for longer and stronger patent laws which will delay the availability of cheaper generic medicines and mean higher prices for medicines,” said Dr Ranald.

“This report makes a mockery of the assurances given by Trade Minister Robb that he would not agree to anything that would undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

“The current patent term for medicines is already 20 years, but the US wants extensions of 5 years in some circumstances. The PBS controls the wholesale price for new medicines by comparing the medical effectiveness and price of new patented medicines with existing medicines, including cheaper generic medicines. Longer patents will mean higher costs for new medicines in the PBS, and higher prices for longer for other medicines, because of the delay in generic medicines coming onto the market. This will mean higher costs for government, which will be passed on to consumers,” explained Dr Ranald.

“Agreement to another US demand to extend data exclusivity for biologic medicines from 5 to 12 years would delay cheaper generic medicines even further by delaying the access to clinical data which generic companies need before they can commercialise cheaper versions of drugs”, said Dr Ranald.

This revelation shows that the Minister’s assurances mean nothing when negotiations take place in secret and we don’t know the result until after the deal is done. We call for the release of the text of the TPP for full public and parliamentary discussion before it is signed,” said Dr Ranald.

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