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Canada-EU CETA: “Illusory” benefits and “significantly increased drug costs” from EU patent proposal, says new policy brief

Despite Canada spending more per capita on pharmaceutical drugs than any country in the world, the federal government is about to sign a trade deal with Europe that would increase the cost even more in exchange for “illusory” gains in pharmaceutical research and development.

This is the prognosis of a new policy brief out of Carleton University on the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The brief, written by Joel Lexchin of York University and Marc-André Gagnon at Carleton, explains the three areas where the EU, at the request Big Pharma, wants Canada to reform its patent regime. The authors go over the associated costs of those reforms as predicted in earlier reports and by the federal government, as well as why it is highly unlikely they would translate into more innovative research or associated job growth in Canada.

This claim, which is made constantly on Twitter by the Big Pharma lobby (using the absurd handle Protect Healthcare), “forgets that the global pharmaceutical sector was characterized in the last 15 years by both record earnings and an innovation crisis,” says the brief. “Canadians already pay more on average for patented drugs than Europeans, and costs are increasing at a faster rate in Canada. It is likely that the CETA will include clauses that significantly contribute to further increasing the cost of drugs in Canada, without any significant benefits for Canadians.”

Thank goodness two-thirds of Canadians would oppose a Canada-EU deal that extended drug patents. Surely the federal government and provinces couldn’t possibly agree to these EU demands just to get a deal.

To read the new briefing note, CETA and Intellectual Property: The debate over pharmaceutical patents, click here.