Costs to Australian taxpayers of pharmaceutical monopolies and proposals to extend them in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Deborah H Gleeson, Hazel Moir and Ruth Lopert
Med J Aust 2015; 202 (6): 306-308. || doi: 10.5694/mja14.01682


  • Intellectual property (IP) protections proposed by the United States for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) have sparked widespread alarm about the potential negative impact on access to affordable medicines.
  • The most recently leaked draft of the IP chapter shows some shifts in the US position, presumably in response to ongoing resistance from other countries. While some problematic provisions identified in earlier drafts have been removed or mitigated, major concerns remain unresolved.
  • Three of the greatest concerns for Australia in the recent draft include provisions that would further entrench secondary patenting and evergreening, lock in extensions to patent terms and extend monopoly rights over clinical trial data for certain medicines.
  • Data from the 2013 Pharmaceutical Patents Review, and from various submissions made to it, show that pharmaceutical monopoly protections already cost Australian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
  • Provisions still being considered for the TPPA would further entrench and extend costly monopolies, with serious implications for the budget bottom line and the sustainability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

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  • Deborah H Gleeson1
  • Hazel Moir2
  • Ruth Lopert3

  • 2 Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.
  • 3 George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures


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