Regulatory data protection (RDP) is neither an extension of patent rights nor a substitute for them. Though they work through different avenues, both serve to incentivize biopharmaceutical firms to invest in the research and development that bring us breakthrough therapies and cures. If innovative therapies and improving global public health are important to Australia, they should protect biologic medicines with both robust patents and RDP.
Intellectual property protection is essential to global health and the future of medicine. In the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement we have the ability to embrace medical breakthroughs and invest in a healthier future, or to undermine it. The United States is currently negotiating the TPP with eleven other nations (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam), and intellectual property protection is a contentious issue in the discussions.
A new caucus of supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement under negotiation was launched yesterday in the US Congress and is headed by four co-chairmen: Republican Reps. David Reichert of Washington and Charles Boustany of Louisiana, and Democratic Reps. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Gregory Meeks of New York. The four members issued a press announcement with statements on why they are supporting the agreement, which they say is important for US jobs, exports and economic growth.
When the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiators gather for the nineteenth and potentially final round of talks later this month in Brunei, the ministers to whom they answer may be nearby.
According to an article published in the Japan Times on Monday, the government of Brunei has put forward a proposal to bring together ministers from the 12 participating countries in order to continue the push for a 2013 conclusion.
An interesting article by Dr. Kristina Lybecker published in IP WatchDog addressing the question of what truly influences a population's access to medicines.
As the TPP negotiations continue this week, the debate over intellectual property rights and access to medicines continues as well. In the quest to eliminate barriers to access it is critical to correctly identify what factors genuinely inhibit access. In the context of this TPP Agreement, strong intellectual property rights enhance trade and growth, which enhances access to medicines. If greater access is to be achieved, safeguarding the protections surrounding innovation is essential, for it encourages investment, technology transfer, and economic prosperity.
Guest blog by Durhane Wong-Rieger, PhD -- Chair of the International Alliance of Patients' Organizations.
For patients around the world maintaining an economic and social environment in which innovation can thrive while, at the same time, enhancing affordable access to better preventive and curative care are key issues. Patients have an important role to play in guiding and supporting innovation with special reference to intellectual property development IP and world health improvement.
Last year, Matrix Insights published a report by Dr. Kanavos (LSE Health), Professor David Taylor (The School of Pharmacy, University of London) and others on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and it's potential impact on enhancing trade and continuing health and development.
The report concluded that "Providing the pharmaceutical industry the IP protection it requires to invest in improved health outcomes must sit alongside sustainable programs to address sub-standard medicines, assured means to exceptional health challenges, and a structured approach to availability of low-cost mature off-patent treatments. The TPP provides an excellent opportunity to lead in the establishment of the next generation of FTAs, which seek to meet each of these goals and, in doing so, fully aligning global free trade with global responsibility."
In the lead-up to the 16th round of negotiations, I thought these issues were worth being raised again.
"Every time the U.S. negotiates a new trade deal, it seems that there is an enormous amount of misinformation generated by all sides of the debate in an attempt to frame the issue in the narrowest terms, portraying it as either a panacea or the end of the world.
The fact of the matter is that trade is a complex and nuanced issue that can’t readily be broken down into sound bites. No side gets everything it puts on the table, and tradeoffs must be made depending on priorities: give a little in one area to get back something of value in another. With the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement currently being negotiated between the United States and about a dozen Asia-Pacific nations, it’s no different. The countries currently in TPP negotiations comprise the 4th-largest export market for U.S. firms, and the broader Asia Pacific region accounts for more than 40 percent of global trade, so it’s critical that we get the best deal possible."
By Phillip Stevens, Executive Director of the Emerging Markets Health Network
In order to bring some evidence to this debate about free trade and health, Emerging Markets Health Network undertook an econometric study analysing the relationship between trade openness and health indicators such as infant mortality rates and life expectancy. The implications of our study are clear: policymakers – particularly those from low-income countries – should continue to pursue trade liberalisation in order to improve the welfare of their citizens.
While the TPP negotiations are far from over, recent news reports provide indications that member nations are looking forward to concluding the deal in 2013.