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Costs to Australian taxpayers of pharmaceutical monopolies and proposals to extend them in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Intellectual property (IP) provisions being pursued by the United States in the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations have generated widespread alarm since the initial US proposals were leaked in 2011.15 Subsequent leaks of composite drafts of the IP chapter have shown ongoing resistance by most countries to many of the US proposals that would delay access to generic medicines.6,7 But while the most recently leaked draft suggests some modifications in the US position,7 major concerns related to medicines access remain unresolved.

This article focuses on three particular problems for Australia that remain in the 2014 draft. These are provisions that would further entrench secondary patenting and evergreening, lock in extensions to patent terms, and extend data protection for certain medicines. If agreed by negotiating countries, these provisions would future-proof existing low standards that are antithetical to promoting access to, and affordability of, medicines. These will not only extend monopolies over expensive new treatments, but will also make subsequent reform efforts increasingly difficult.

For each of the problems identified, we examined existing public domain data, drawn primarily…