Australian government to consider dropping US FTA amendment

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

An amendment of the US Fair Trade Agreement insisted by the opposition may be dropped after lobbying by the US Pharmaceutical Industry.

Mark Latham, former opposition leader negotiated the "evergreening" amendment to ensure that drug companies could not extend patents to fight off cheaper generic versions of their medicines. Companies caught doing so may receive multi-million dollar fines. The US Pharmaceutical Industry claims that the provisions are harming investment.

Acting Prime Minister, Mark Vaile said "We will have a look at it, if (the evergreening issue) is raised by the Americans".

"(But) the US will have to prove that Labor's evergreening amendment is commercially detrimental, not just philosophically detrimental."

A Health Department secretary will travel to Washington on January 13 to discuss the issue before a formal review of the FTA in March.