In New Zealand, the high price of a breast cancer drug is causing concern among the government. The drug, Herceptin, has the possibility of keeping its monopoly rights as a result of the Asia-Pacific free-trade deal. Public health lobbyists involved in the deal have revealed that negotiators made an effort to allow Herceptin’s manufacturers monopoly rights for as long as the next twelve years. One of the reasons that Herceptin could keep its monopoly rights is the US is reported to have secured exclusivity over the drug’s clinical trial information for at least 8 years.
Herceptin is notorious in the country for its high price. It is an organic drug made form living cells, which industry experts say makes it more difficult to copy into a bio-similar. For one year of treatment, Herceptin could cost patients as much as $100,000.
A spokesperson for the country’s trade minister, Tim Groser, indicated that it is likely that the government won’t fight the monopoly rights of the breast cancer drug. “The minister has said publicly on numerous occasions that New Zealand will not negotiate on the fundamentals that make Pharmac successful.”
India, well-known for its lax patent laws, has recently approved a Herceptin bio-similar for public use. There is no bio-similar on the market in New Zealand and health advocates in the country had anticipated the drug coming off patent, which would have brought costs down and provided access to similar treatments for more patients. If Herceptin’s monopoly rights stand, it would extend beyond industry norms across the globe.