Restoring Australia’s Place as a Global Leader – we need to strengthen intellectual property protection

Medicines Australia CEO Tim James today called on Government to strengthen Australia’s intellectual property (IP) system.

“IP is at the heart of innovation, and protecting it is critical for future economic growth in Australia,” Mr James told a Parliamentary Friends of Medicines event today.

“For a modern, knowledge-based economy like Australia’s, IP is a particularly valuable commodity, currently worth an estimated $250 billion to the economy, or nearly a fifth of the nation’s GDP.

“Australia’s IP system has traditionally been one of the strongest in the world, but Government actions in recent years, along with long-standing deficiencies in key areas, are undermining global confidence in the strength and stability of Australia’s IP system.

“For example, Australia offers just 5 years of data exclusivity, which prevents imitators from relying on data generated by research-based pharmaceutical companies to obtain marketing approval for equivalent products.

“The 5-year term was introduced in 1998, but since then the world has moved on.

“Most developed countries now offer 8 to 12 years of data exclusivity, and even some developing countries offer more protection than Australia.

“There is too much focus on the ‘cost’ of strengthening Australia’s IP system, and not enough on the benefits, such as job creation and investment in R&D and high-tech manufacturing.”

Debate on IP-related issues in Australia should be well informed, evidenced and fact based. Just this week, the research-based pharmaceutical industry was again accused of seeking to expand IP protections through ‘evergreening’.

“Evergreening as a concept represents a fundamental misunderstanding about how the IP system works,” Mr James said.

“No later patents can extend the term of an earlier one. Once a patent expires, imitators are free to copy these inventions if they choose.

“We urgently need informed discussion on the costs and benefits of strengthening Australia’s IP system.

“Strengthening Australia’s IP system will ensure not only that Australian patients continue to get prompt and affordable access to the latest and most effective treatments, but also enable Australia to attract even more investment in pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing.”


Contact Person:

Alexia Vlahos
Phone: (02) 6122 8503