UPDATE 5-After five years of negotiations, Pacific trade talks near deal
* Pacific nations negotiating sweeping trade pact
* Breakthrough seen on monopoly period for drugmakers
* Australia's Robb says TPP partners reviewing biologic drug terms (Adds quote from Australia trade minister Robb)
By Krista Hughes
ATLANTA, Oct 4 (Reuters) - A dozen Pacific nations closed in on a sweeping free trade pact on Sunday in Atlanta after a breakthrough over how long a monopoly pharmaceutical companies should be given on new biotech drugs.
The issue has pitted the United States, which has argued for longer protections, against Australia and five other delegations who say such measures would strain national healthcare budgets and keep life-saving medicines from patients who cannot afford them.
The terms of that compromise, hammered out after a third all-night round of negotiations between Australia and the United States, still had to find support from other nations such as Chile and Peru as of Sunday afternoon, people involved in the talks said.
The United States provides 12 years of exclusivity for drugs like cancer therapy Avastin, developed by Genentech, a division of Roche in order to encourage innovation. Australia insisted on five years of protection to control health care costs.
The two-track compromise would set a minimum threshold of five years during which drug makers would have exclusive rights to clinical data behind new drugs while adding an additional protection of several more years as applications for competing drugs are reviewed, people involved said. Continued...