The Abbott Government must assure Australians that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement will not lead to higher prices for medicines in Australia.
Public health experts have today raised concerns that changes to patent laws sought by the United States in the TPP negotiations would make it harder for cheaper generic medicines to be made available in Australia.
This would mean higher prices for Australian patients and has the potential to increase the cost to taxpayers of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
These concerns highlight the need for greater transparency in the TPP negotiations.
The Trade Minister Andrew Robb has refused repeated requests by the Opposition to make a full statement to Parliament on the TPP negotiations.
This arrogant stance is undermining public confidence in the Government’s approach and jeopardising support for trade liberalisation which can stimulate growth and jobs.
The Government must not agree to any provisions in the TPP which erode the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or significantly alter the balance in Australia’s intellectual property laws between the interests of consumers and the interests of producers.
It is time for the Abbott Government to be upfront with the Australian public over the TPP.