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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7033

Senator MURPHY (5:46 PM) —I would like to ask the minister a further question. Before I do, in the response that the minister gave me to my last question about how she would block patentability or a patent claim, the minister referred to a section of the Patents Act—I think it was section 18.

Senator Patterson —It was section 18(2).

Senator MURPHY —Can I say two things about that response. There is a significant difference between the reference to adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. We know what the clear difference is between extracting stem cells from an adult versus extracting them from an embryo: in the latter, you kill the embryo. I suppose that is why I have drawn a focus in the amendment that I have proposed. But, in terms of the question that I put before, from a public health interest point of view with regard to therapies or surgical methods that have arisen that you would not want a patent to be granted over, how would you stop that, Minister? I would suggest to you that section 18 of the Patents Act does not provide you with that capacity. It simply does not do that. So I will ask you the question again in that context and in the context of the research in this technology that might deliver some very substantial therapeutic or surgical treatments: in the public health interest and in the affordability health interest of this country, if the patent claim were made, how would you stop that patent being granted?