13 August 2004
Australian biotech industry sounds warning bells on FTA amendments
AusBiotech - Australia’s Biotechnology Industry Organisation representing over 2,000 Members, is deeply concerned at the potential unintended consequences and the uncertainty created by the proposed FTA amendments.
"We have some serious concerns that there may be unintended consequences as a result of the patent amendments to be introduced into the Senate," said Dr Tony Coulepis, Executive Director, AusBiotech.
"The amendment could be a real disincentive to our strengthening, but still delicate, biotech industry and undo much of the excellent work that Federal and State governments have done in recent years, highlighted by the bipartisan partnership and promotion at the biggest global biotech meeting, BIO 2004, San Francisco.
"Our political leaders have backed innovation and biotech and now there is the potential to dilute this investment and damage the same industry that Australia has worked so hard to support and build".
The structure of fines in the amendments appear discriminatory and would seem to be based on the premise that patentees are large multinational companies. However, it is quite possible that the victim of the FTA amendments could be an embryonic patent-holding Australian biotech company and the aggressor a multinational generic / pharmaceutical company. A $10 million fine in this scenario could send biotech companies out of business or offshore.
"I urge the Government and Opposition to work together to ensure this unintended consequence does not become a reality and destroy a developing industry that has the potential of delivering significant outcomes for Australians", said Dr Coulepis.