This week, Singapore welcomed the next round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. In November 2011, the United States began discussions on the TPP hoping to strengthen our trading relationship with countries of the Asia-Pacific region. This ambitious, 21st century trade agreement holds the potential to enhance trade and investment among all partners, spark economic growth and development, and support future innovation. Realizing these benefits requires pursuing the right kinds of standards, particularly in the area of intellectual property.
A successful TPP agreement would match international standards to U.S. law through (1) the standardization of the patent linkage system, and (2) the provision of 12 years of data exclusivity for biologics. Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, the U.S. patent linkage system protects marketing rights for new medicines as they move through the regulatory approval process. Current U.S. law provides innovator companies with 12 years of data exclusivity for biologics. Applying these standards internationally would help foster innovation, support economic growth, and ensure that the U.S. can remain economically competitive in the global marketplace.
Investment and trade represent a critical component of the U.S. economy. In order for the U.S. to maintain economic competitiveness, international standards must provide a level playing field for all actors. However, U.S. economic competitiveness is not the only thing at stake. Intellectual property protections also provide necessary incentivizes for the development of new, innovative medicines. Without these innovation incentives, patients worldwide may not have access to treatments to meet the ever-growing medical challenges. As progress continues on TPP negotiations, the U.S. must maintain firm commitment to strong protections for intellectual property and ensure that the agreement reflects current U.S. law. As Colorado College Professor of Economics, Dr. Kristina Lybecker recently wrote, “Free trade begets growth, health and development. The Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership has the potential to enhance all three. We must seize that opportunity.”