[Linux-aus] FTA

Michael Neuling Michael.Neuling at gmail.com
Tue Jun 15 12:00:02 UTC 2004

> I heard on the radio this morning the FTA has been blocked due to it
> possibly makign us incur higher costs for medicines and stuff?
> Anyone know more?

There are two major issues for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
(PBS) under the AUSFTA.

Firstly, generic drugs entry into the market is delayed.  Patents are
effectively extended due to companies now being able to block
development, manufacturing and selling of generic drugs until a patent
expires.  Previously only the selling of a patented drug was
restricted, so the patent is now extended by the length of the
development and manufacturing period.  This could be years, depending
on the drug.

Secondly, there is now a review process if drugs are rejected from PBS
listing so that drug companies can dispute the decision.  This process
is unknown.  The health department said at the Senate committee they
don't know what effect this process will have (read as: it's probably
going to cost us money, but since we work for the government of the
day, we have to err on the side of everything's rosie).

The ALP have said that they'll block enabling legislation if it
undermines the PBS.  The senate committee will report in August,
that's when real decisions will happen.

My 2c, these laws are derived from policy, but the Australian and US
policy for health care differs radically[1].  Therefore, how can we
harmonise laws when policies differ so much?


1. Australian policy is access to a decent health care for everyone. 
US policy is to create the best health care system possible (ie.
reward innovation => high costs => only the rich can afford)

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