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The poll ratings of the Australia federal Labor government are likely to drop further if it gives in to draconian new proposals made by the US as part of the secret Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.


According to documents leaked on the web overnight by the Citizens Trade Campaign, an advocacy group, the Obama administration is trying to empower big drug companies to attack schemes like Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) and New Zealand's Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC) that provide citizens of these countries with lower priced drugs.

If the proposals made by the US, contained in the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter of the TPPA, are accepted, it would mean greater restrictions on generic competition and rising medicine costs for the Asia-Pacific region.

The Labor government has indicated that it may accede to US proposals with the Australian ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley, reportedly telling a US hearing on the agreement that everything was on the table.

Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean has reportedly made a similar statement.

The new leaked draft includes a proposal to lengthen and create new pharmaceutical monopolies, grant additional exclusive controls over clinical trial data and eliminate safeguards against the abuse of patients, according to analysis by Public Citizen, a US group. The group has also posted comparative analyses of how the IP proposals measure up against existing regimes in Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Peru.

In the process, the US has backtracked on a free trade agreement it struck with Peru just four years ago; the proposed changes would force Peru into conflict with the Andean Community, a trade grouping, and its Common Intellectual Property Regime.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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