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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26394

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (7:41 PM) —I cannot provide an answer in the terms that Senator Allison is seeking, but a system that is more transparent, that better reflects and that in a fair way recognises the interests of both parties—a patent holder and an applicant seeking to have a generic medicine registered—and that has within it greater accountability has to be in the public interest.

I made the point that I do not think the Democrats are prepared to accept—it certainly seems to me to be valid—that if we are talking about the bottom line being quality medicines at fair and affordable prices, we have an interest in encouraging both the pharmaceutical companies that are prepared to invest huge sums of money in new products whilst at the same time also encouraging those who are prepared to promote generic alternatives. Looking at the trend of the PBS in recent years, it seems to me that that has been basically heading in the right direction. Whether there will be a net benefit with the adoption of these amendments is difficult to say. I could try to develop an argument to suggest that there might be, but the test will be over time. However, I cannot see how the argument about what is unreasonable about it and how that could be translated into higher prices stands up at all.