Time to consider longer patent terms

A new Federal Government review of Australia’s patent system, announced today, should consider the compelling case to extend the patent life of innovative medicines, the chief executive of Medicines Australia, Dr Brendan Shaw said today.

Responding to the announcement by the Parliamentary Secretary for Industry & Innovation, Mark Dreyfus, Dr Shaw said extensions to the patent life for health technologies like pharmaceuticals was important because the regulatory and reimbursement processes consume years of patent life.

“We look forward to contributing to this review because there is a growing argument that patent terms in Australia are too short,” Dr Shaw said.

“Given it takes as long as three years to get a new medicine listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and rejection rates by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee are increasing, it’s timely to look at whether patent terms are long enough.

“These patent extensions are important for Australian technology companies.

“This review will be an important opportunity to highlight how delays in Government evaluation systems can slow down access to medicines for the Australian community, and therefore why delivering effective patent life is so important.

“This review is timely given the opportunities awaiting Australia’s innovative medicines and biotech companies in international markets and their need for a robust patent system that appropriately protects companies’ technological knowhow both in Australia and internationally.

“In light of some of the recent deterioration we have seen in patent protection in some countries, the review provides the opportunity for the Australian Government to give a clear signal about its approach to intellectual property to those countries and to Australian technology companies.

“Given that the Government is currently considering how to make Australia more of an exporter of high-technology goods, an objective, independent, impartial discussion of the patents system and its importance is timely.”


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