The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will open up vast new markets for Australian companies, including manufacturers of innovative medicines and vaccines, Medicines Australia CEO, Tim James, said today.
“Pharmaceuticals are already one of Australia’s largest manufactured export, worth around $3 billion each year,” he says.
“But a new trade deal which further reduces trade barriers, improves market access and, above all, establishes high regional standards for intellectual property protection, could help transform Australia into a leading global hub for researching and manufacturing a new generation of highly specialised medicines and vaccines.”
In recent weeks, critics have appeared in the media claiming that possible changes to Australia’s IP system as a result of the TPP will lead to higher prices for medicines and “decimate” the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
“Ten years ago, when Australia signed a free trade agreement with United States, the same people made the same arguments. They predicted the demise of the PBS,” James says.
“They were wrong. Absolutely wrong.
“The PBS today is more sustainable than at any point in its history, and this is because the pharmaceutical industry in Australia is fundamentally committed to PBS sustainability and will always be willing to work with the Government to achieve this.”
In an ‘open letter’ to Parliament late last week, Medicines Australia, in partnership with AusBiotech and Research Australia, called on policymakers to ignore the hysteria and fear mongering and instead to focus on achieving positive outcomes for Australia through the TPP.
The letter noted that ensuring Australia has a globally competitive IP system is the key to our future health and wealth.
“We shouldn’t let fear mongering derail progress on what will truly be a trade agreement for the 21st century,” James says.
“In terms of IP, there is always too much focus on the ‘cost’ of strengthening Australia’s IP system, and not enough on the benefits, such as job creation and investment in R&D and high-tech manufacturing.
“Strengthening Australia’s IP system will ensure not only that Australian patients continue to get prompt and affordable access to the latest and most effective treatments, but also enable Australia to attract even more investment in biotechnology and pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing.”