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FTA vs PBS

February 17th, 2004

This nicely spun piece from the Age makes it pretty clear that the proposed FTA with the US will mean a lot more money for Big Pharma coming out of the pockets of Australian taxpayers and consumers.

Medicines Australia chief executive, Kieran Schneemann, said the deal and changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) would act as an incentive for American firms to invest in Australia.

and suggested as much as $1 billion might be spent on research here.

I think we all know what “an incentive” means in this context. If Schneeman’s estimate of a response on the scale of $1 billion is remotely plausible, the incentive must be a really big one. It would be more cost effective to give a bit more money to the National Health and Medical Research Council

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  1. stephen
    February 17th, 2004 at 08:06 | #1

    for those who don’t know, this is the same Kieran Schneeman who was chief of staff for Nick Minchin, Finance Minister and solid Howard acolyte. There were comments on the appointment at the time (see eg http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/12/17/1039656395965.html )

  2. February 17th, 2004 at 09:48 | #2

    I wonder what they mean by “research”. Outsourced field testing? Would we say that US payment for Australian research is currently somehow inhibited by something enabled by FTA? I would have thought the barriers to Australian pharmacological research already are

    a) the proverbial lack of Australian venture capital and

    b) the very high costs of drug testing to satisfy US regulators. Perhaps they are going to relax this, in the manner suggested in the quarantine area. Some Australian officials on US regulatory boards would help. ;)

    The other problem is Australia’s naughty tendency to invest our finite research dollars in areas of public health that don’t involve drugs, partly to counter the distortion created by the fact that drugs make money.

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