US pushes for stronger TPP monopolies for lifesaving biologic drugs

20 September 2016

According to recent media reports the US is pushing Australia to agree to increase monopoly rights for lifesaving biologics drugs in the TPP.

The current TPP text extends monopolies on expensive biologic drugs used to treat cancer and other serious diseases from five to eight years, delaying availability of cheaper versions of those drugs. Those three extra years are already bad enough and have formed a key part of AFTINET’s campaign against the current TPP. We have repeatedly pointed out that each year cheaper versions of medicines are delayed from entering the market would cost the PBS hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to Bloomberg, Republican Orrin Hatch from the US Senate Finance Committee said that he wants 12 years’ data protection for biologic drugs as a condition for supporting the TPP in Congress. He said the US administration was “making progress” in talks with Australia and other TPP countries to find a way to further increase data protection for biologics drugs and had talked with Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo.

Senator Hatch reportedly said: “They're going to have to find a way of having the countries agree to change that formality in the TPP to 12 years... If Australia wants to be part of it, they have to meet our terms.”

Hatch is also reported to have predicted that the TPP will pass through Congress this year if Australia changes its stance on biologic drugs.

As AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald told the media, this latest demand from the US “is outrageous and should be rejected. It highlights the flaws in the TPP, which is not about free trade, but is about the extension of monopolies and corporate rights.”