Ah, Geez, the Aussies, Too? Plush Patent Rights of Big Pharma Getting the Once-Over
As debate continues over access to medicines and intellectual property rights, the Australian government has decided to review its procedures for granting patents on prescription medicines. And so a special panel has been formed to take “practical steps to ensure the system is delivering effective outcomes for consumers and industry.”
Why now, though? The government explains that the Patents Act of 1990 – which allows patents to be extended, under some circumstances, for up to five years beyond the standard 20-year period – were introduced in 1998 and are now due for review, according to IP Australia, a branch of the government that oversees intellectual property.
And so, IP Australia notes that the review, which is expected to be completed in April 2013, will “also consider whether there is evidence that the patent system is being used to extend pharmaceutical monopolies at the expense of new market entrants,” according to the statement, which notes Australia’s obligations under international agreements will be scrutinized.
Big drug makers -- Pfizer (PFE), Merck (MRK), Novartis (NVS), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi (SNY), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) -- are struggling to produce revenue growth as patents expire on blockbuster drugs and as their labs fail to produce enough new blockbusters.
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Ed Silverman is the editor of Pharmalot and a contributor to YCharts, which includes the just-released YCharts Pro Platinum for professional investors.