Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist November 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist November 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 15
A new Prime Minister and a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement
signed within weeks of each other, how exciting!
Thankfully Health Minister Sussan Ley
survived the ministry reshuffle. She has
been Health Minister for less than a
year but after September's reshuffle it
seems like she has been there for ages.
Speaking of age, the decision to bring
aged care back into health is a welcome
victory for common sense.
The TTP is interesting. The agreement
text will not be made public until later
The Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull
understandably was upbeat about it.
'Our future, our jobs, our children's jobs
depend on us having access to these
big and growing markets and this opens
so many doors simultaneously and at
the same time we have preserved our
vital national interests. There are no
changes being made to our laws or
regulations relating to pharmaceuticals,
or drugs, there are no changes to the
PBS, no increase in the cost of medicines
in Australia, which was a matter of
concern. So this is a great outcome,'
Mr Turnbull said.
Generic and Biosimilar Medicines
Association (GBMA) CEO Belinda Wood
was also positive.
'Trade Minister Robb has put the
needs of Australian patients ahead of
the interests of US-based brand name
medicine companies. The finalisation
of the TPP without an extension to data
exclusivity means Australian patients
will continue to have timely access
to affordable generic and biosimilar
medicines,' she said.
Taking a far more sceptical approach,
independent Senator Nick Xenophon
labelled the agreement 'a trans
He said the Government had failed to
show how the TPP was in the Australian
national interest, coming after more
than a decade of bilateral free trade
deals that 'have led to much worse trade
imbalances with partner countries'.
Among the examples he cited were
Singapore (signed in 2003) with an
$8.9 billion trade deficit growing at
15% a year and the United States
(signed in 2005) with a $22 billion trade
deficit growing at 4% a year.
The Labor Opposition, which had started
the negotiations while in government,
welcomed the agreement and noted the
Government's assurance that no element
of the agreement would increase the
price of medicines for Australians or
undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits
Scheme. However, Shadow Minister for
Trade and Investment, Senator Penny
Wong, said Labor remained opposed to
the inclusion of Investor State Dispute
Settlement provisions in all trade
agreements, and vowed to 'carefully
scrutinise relevant provisions in the TPP,
including claimed carve-outs'.
Co-Director of the ANU Centre for
Research Excellence in the Social
Determinants of Health Equity Professor
Sharon Friel made an interesting point.
She said trade agreements that focus
solely on economic outcomes miss
the opportunity to address social and
'We are currently looking at the nutrition
effects of the Australia-US free trade
agreement and it looks like the imports
of ultra-processed foods -- junk basically
-- have gone up. This is not good from a
chronic disease perspective.'
Given that 50% of Australians suffer from
a chronic disease her point is well made.
Professor Friel called on the Government
to undertake health impact assessments
and ensure all agreements include
provisions that protect population
health and health equity.
While the signs are that the Minister for
Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb,
has done a remarkable job with the TPP,
the suspicions fostered by the secrecy
around the negotiations remain.
The release on 10 October by Wikileaks
of what it believes is the chapter
on intellectual property has only
So, while waiting for the text of the
agreement to be publicly unveiled the
Australian pharmaceutical industry can
sit back and ponder the opportunities
presented by the elimination of tariffs
on pharmaceutical machinery exports
to Mexico within 10 years and the
elimination of tariffs on pharmaceuticals
exports to Peru over 11 years.
Signed but not
BY ANDREW DANIELS
Andrew Daniels is Managing Editor of Australian
Pharmacist. Opinions expressed in this column are
not necessarily those of the Pharmaceutical Society,
its Board or staff.
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