A dozen Pacific countries closed in on a sweeping free trade pact on Sunday in Atlanta, after a breakthrough over how long a monopoly pharmaceutical companies should be given on new biotech drugs.
The issue has pitted the US, which argued for longer protections, against Australia and five other delegations which said such measures would strain national healthcare budgets and keep life-saving medicines from patients who cannot afford them.
The compromise would preserve Australia’s existing five-year protection period but would also offer flexibility on longer drug monopolies, potentially creating two tracks on future drug pricing within the trading bloc, a person close to the negotiations said.
The terms of that compromise, hammered out after a third all-night round of negotiations between Australia and the US, still had to find support from other nations such as Chile and Peru, other people involved in the talks said.
Mexican economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo said he could not reveal details of the compromise on biologics “until everyone has signed up and we are all on the same page”.
Andrew Robb: Australia and US close to drug patent compromise for TPP deal
But officials were increasingly confident of completing a deal that has been in negotiations for five years. Japan’s economy minister, Akira Amari, said he had called Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to notify him that a deal was within sight.
Via The Guardian