IP provisions 'suspended' but not scrapped

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Key intellectual property provisions will be suspended but not scrapped in the finalised Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The agreement, now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), was finalised in Tokyo late yesterday by the remaining 11 countries.

The intellectual property provisions are one of several key clauses suspended pending the potential return of the US. President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement as one of his first actions in office.

The original agreement included significant provisions on pharmaceuticals, including a requirement for countries to adopt one of two options in relation to biologic medicines: 8 years of legislated data exclusivity; or, "a comparable outcome in the market" based on 5 years data exclusivity and "other measures...recognizing that market circumstances also contribute to effective market protection."

During the negotiations, former trade minister Andrew Robb argued Australia's current five-year data exclusivity period for all pharmaceuticals is effectively longer because of regulatory and reimbursement processes. However, the US consistently argued countries like Australia would need to provide evidence of 8-year terms.

The intellectual property provisions also committed countries in relation to patent terms and extensions.

It remains unclear whether the finalised agreement has retained provisions, consistent with the bilateral US-Australia free trade agreement, covering the transparency and accountability of government run pharmaceutical reimbursement systems. New Zealand's controversial pharmaceutical purchasing agency, PHARMAC, had already planned adoption of the provisions.