p>Labor is deeply concerned by reports the Abbott/Turnbull Government is considering caving in to US demands to use the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to boost the monopoly power of pharmaceutical companies, a move that risks pushing up drug prices in Australia.
Labor is deeply concerned by reports the Abbott/Turnbull Government is considering caving in to US demands to use the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to boost the monopoly power of pharmaceutical companies, a move that risks pushing up drug prices in Australia.
A major sticking point with the TPP negotiations has been US demands to extend the period of data exclusivity for new biologics from five years to 12 years.
Australia rightly resisted this move because it would delay the introduction on to the Australian market of cheaper generic drugs, potentially causing a massive blowout in the cost of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Now, there are reports Australia is considering a compromise that would extend the exclusivity period to eight years.
The Abbott/Turnbull Government must reassure the public that it will not agree to any TPP provisions that will increase the price of essential medicines in Australia.
The Abbott/Turnbull Government must also ensure the TPP does not include Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions which could jeopardise Australian public policies in areas ranging from healthcare to the environment.
ISDS clauses give foreign investors the right to sue governments if the company’s business interests are adversely affected by national policy. The Asian arm of the tobacco multinational Philip Morris is challenging the Australian government over plain packaging laws, despite the company already losing a case in the Australian courts.
ISDS provisions in the TPP could allow multinationals to challenge Australian policies designed to protect public welfare in international arbitration tribunals.
There is widespread community concern about these provisions, which have been criticised by economic and legal experts including the Productivity Commission, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and The Economist.
Labor opposes ISDS provisions in trade agreements.
The Abbott/Turnbull Government has included them in trade agreements with Korea and China and has said it is prepared to include them in the TPP.
Mr Turnbull should listen to the community, follow the lead of former Prime Minister Howard who refused to include ISDS provisions in the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, and reject the inclusion of ISDS provisions in the TPP.