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Medicine affordability is a central issue in current public policy debate in Australia, particularly in the context of our engagement in regional trade negotiations such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). These trade negotiations could re-shape the global intellectual property regime in ways that prolong pharmaceutical monopolies and stymie access to generic medicines; while posing additional health risks through shifts in the power relations between the regulatory authorities of states and the interests of private corporations and investors.
As negotiations for the TPP near completion, the policy grand challenge will consider:
- What does the evidence say about the general relationship between trade agreements and health equity, for both developed and developing countries?
- What does the evidence say about the specific relationship between trade agreements and medicine affordability?
- What can Australia learn from the Canadian experience?
- What policy options would advance access to affordable medicines and can these options be achieved through trade agreements?