The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which would outline trade, regulatory and investment parameters between North American and Asian participating countries, is still under development. In the midst of negotiations, many of the agreement’s provisions have received negative attention from the media, consumer advocates and other stakeholders.  The TPP’s current provision to expand patent protections within the pharmaceutical industry is one such subject that has garnered much scrutiny. Notwithstanding, the measure could be a big win for the industry.

As currently drafted, the TPP would allow pharmaceutical companies to extend their patents after the initial 20-year timeline has expired.  The TPP would also allow companies to re-patent drugs for further development.  The new rules would increase profits for pharmaceutical companies that generally see a dramatic fall off in profits once their patented drugs are introduced on the generic market.  Conversely, the rules would raise costs for consumers.  In recent weeks, notable commentators, including Joseph Stiglitz of the New York Times, have voiced opposition to the TPP’s healthcare changes.

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