Govt must be clear about TPPA medicine protections

The Government must be 100 percent clear with New Zealanders about whether it’s preparing to cave in to US pressure over extending patent protections in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that would make biologic medicines more expensive, the Green Party said.

Reports from the USA suggest the pharmaceutical industry is pushing the US Government to force Australia and New Zealand to accept a longer patent period that would raise the cost of medicines, before the deal is signed on Thursday. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Todd McLay have not ruled out changes to patent periods.

“The possibility of last minute changes to suit the pharmaceutical industry’s profiteering is exactly the kind of caving in to corporate interests that the TPPA has pushed New Zealand towards,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said.

“The New Zealand Government has not explicitly ruled out re-opening negotiations on extending five-year patent periods for biologic medicines to eight years, which could increase their cost by $25-$50 million a year.

“The TPPA is a bad enough deal for New Zealand right now, we absolutely can’t afford any last minute changes pushed through by Big Pharma.

“The National Government has already admitted that the TPPA as it stands will increase the cost of access to medicines and load Pharmac up with new costs.

“The TPPA has finally been made public so it would be completely wrong for corporate interests to force negotiations to resume behind closed doors,” said Mr Hague.

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