The government is currently "negotiating" (meaning "accepting whatever other countries demand, because we have nothing to offer them") on the Trans Pacific Partnership. They've insisted that it will be a good deal for New Zealand, but this morning John Key was forced to admit what we all knew: that it would mean more expensive medicines:
The Government will face a higher medicine bill under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, Prime Minister John Key warns.
Talks on the 12 nation deal are in their final stages in Hawaii this week and a successful outcome would likely see patent protection for some drugs extended beyond the current period - effectively about five years from introduction to the market - pushing up the cost.
"It's possible and in fact highly probably that patents will run for a little bit longer and that means the Government will have to pay for the original drug as opposed to the generic for a little bit longer," Key said on Tuesday.
But he said patients would not have to pay more for prescriptions as a result.
Which in turn means either higher taxes, or reduced services, in health or elsewhere, to pay for it. And the reason? Because greedy pharmaceutical companies want to make higher profits for longer and can lobby the US government to turn a "free trade" deal into one which extends their regulatory monopoly and forbids us from parallel importing around it.
This doesn't sound like a good deal for New Zealand at all. Why are we signing it again?