[Ip-health] News: PharmaTimes- New Zealand "challenge to Big Pharma monopoly"

Terri Beswick Terri at haieurope.org
Thu Dec 9 02:22:05 PST 2010

New Zealand "challenge to Big Pharma monopoly" 

World News | December 08, 2010 


Lynne Taylor 


New Zealand has issued a proposal to its trading partners which
constitutes "a direct challenge to the monopoly interests of major
pharmaceutical corporations," says a leading advocacy group.


In a paper presented at the fourth negotiating round of the Trans
Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement (FTA) involving eight
Asia-Pacific nations and the US, being held in Auckland, New Zealand,
this week, New Zealand has urged caution in moving beyond the
intellectual property (IP) standards required by the World Trade
Organization (WTO) Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
(TRIPS) agreement.


The confidential paper, which has been seen by the US advocacy group
Public Citizen, warns that there is "a tendency towards overprotection
of IP in all our societies, particularly in the areas of copyright and
patents." New Zealand proposes an alternative "TRIPs-aligned" structure,
which would not require data exclusivity provisions, for example, but
would focus on operational coherence and enforcement and
capacity-building in developing countries.


In contrast, the "TRIPs-plus" provisions included in many FTAs involving
the US aim to facilitate "stronger, longer and more common
pharmaceutical monopolies, raise health care costs and limit access to
medicines," says Public Citizen. While the group is concerned at some of
New Zealand's proposals - including the risk that they could
considerably increase the bias of IP enforcement policy towards rights
holders - it adds that they could also preserve TPP members' rights to
pursue IP policies "that protect and promote regional access to
lifesaving medicines."


The document "represents a significant improvement over the status quo
advanced in many developed-country FTAs over the past 15 years, and a
direct challenge to the monopoly interests of major pharmaceutical
corporations," Public Citizen adds.


The group has also reported that US drugmakers are calling for US
negotiators to ensure that the TPP talks secure "the highest possible"
IP protections from the negotiating partners, plus changes to New
Zealand's pharmaceutical management agency (PHARMAC), similar to the
restraints placed on Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) by
the recent US/Australia FTA.


The request is made in a paper submitted to the US Trade Representative
(USTR) by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
(PhRMA) and major US business partners, which also calls for the TPP to
include a pharmaceutical chapter modeled after provisions in the US FTAs
with Korea and Australia, says Public Citizen. 


New Zealand should release TPP draft text, so the public can contribute,
says Public Citizen, which also calls on the other negotiating partners
to "take a cue" from New Zealand and "affirmatively introduce their own
independent visions for trade and the knowledge economy early in the
negotiations, so the matter is not settled by rote and a
twentieth-century template introduced by the United States," says Public


- The original TPP took effect in May 2008, signed by Brunei, Chile, New
Zealand and Singapore. The current talks also include Australia,
Malaysia, Peru, the US and Vietnam, which are negotiating to join the






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