Protect Innovation to Reach Full Potential of TPP

Protect Innovation to Reach Full Potential of TPP

04.23.13 | By Jay Taylor

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has the potential to be an economic game-changer for the United States. Opening the growing markets of the Asia Pacific region would increase trade and exports, help continue our economic recovery and create new, high-paying jobs for American workers. But while the TPP could eventually be a major boon for American industry, there are still some potential pitfalls that must be avoided. Of chief concern is how the issue of intellectual property rights is being addressed.

U.S. biopharmaceutical companies are at the forefront of medical innovation, developing new medicines that will treat a whole host of diseases and conditions and help patients around the globe. These innovations could be severely hindered if intellectual property (IP) protections are scaled back. This is especially important in the area of biologic medicines, which could hold the key to unlocking treatments for diseases that have puzzled researchers for many years.

U.S. law provides 12 years of data protection for new biologic drugs. This allows innovating companies adequate time to recoup the significant investments in research and development that made these new drugs possible. Yet in the TPP, the outcome for strong biopharmaceutical IP protections, including on biologics, is far from settled at this point.

Unfortunately, in his last two budgets President Obama has proposed slashing intellectual property protections on biologics by almost half to 7 years. PhRMA is deeply concerned about the effects a reduction in IP protections would have on the future of drug development and on our economy. As the world’s leader in biopharmaceutical innovation, the United States should be advocating for robust IP protections across the board, including 12 years of regulatory data protection as reflected in U.S. law.

The Senate Finance Committee will be discussing this and other issues related to the TPP during a hearing tomorrow in Washington. Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Hatch have been staunch supporters of robust IP protections, including for biologics, and have recently written to the acting U.S. Trade Representative urging him to seek these commitments in the TPP. This reflects the strong bipartisan consensus in both Houses to secure a 12-year standard in the TPP. As the President will likely ask Congress for Trade Promotion Authority to allow him to fast track the TPP, we hope he takes these bipartisan concerns to heart and aggressively fights for high standards of IP in the TPP and all trade negotiations.

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