TPP won’t alter Malaysia’s policy on drug patents, minister says

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the TPPA would not change Malaysia’s policy on drug patents. — File pic
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the TPPA would not change Malaysia’s policy on drug patents. — File pic

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 7 — Malaysia’s policy on drug patents will remain unchanged even if it signs on with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said today.

The international trade and industry minister said the terms negotiated between the 12 prospective partner countries under the TPP will not weigh in on Malaysia’s patent protection regime, which currently lasts for 20 years.

“TPP does not result in any change in Malaysia’s patent policy,” he said at a news conference here.

Mustapa said Malaysia has also been adamant that the term for data protection in the new area of biologics should not extend beyond five years.

Data exclusivity on drugs was a concern among critics of the TPP, who warned that clauses under the agreement’s intellectual property section on drug patent protection could potentially deprive millions of people of access to life-saving generic drugs.

TPP opponents added that the push for extended exclusivity to data on drugs would only benefit big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of public health.

Mustapa today argued that the argument against the TPP’s data exclusivity clauses do not hold water as data exclusivity or patents “will not have an influence on the price of drugs”.

“There are several things that influence drug prices. It could be exchange rates, margins, some people have monopolies... there might be other factors, but the price of drugs is not determined only by those factors alone,” he said.

Mustapa noted, however, that Malaysia has been mindful of the fact that access to medication is of paramount concern and stressed that they have taken pains to make sure the TPP does not result in a hike in the price of drugs.

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