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CETA drug patent provision a bad deal

The Canadian Press has studied figures over the last five years and finds that that the export of pharmaceutical drugs to Canada from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Sweden among other EU countries is $25 billion greater than similar exports from Canada to the EU.

This trade deficit is significant because the Harper government has agreed to the EU demands to extended patent protection for up to two years on brand-name drugs and gave European firms the right of appeal against unfavourable court rulings on their patents, which could add 18 months to a patented drug’s lucrative life.


Harper has acknowledged this will put “upward pressure” on drug prices in this country that we would see around 2023. It has been estimated the cost of delaying the introduction of cheaper generic medicines to be between $800 million and $1.65 billion a year. Harper has said that the federal government would consider compensating provinces for their increased spending to feed these corporate profits. But it should be noted that the Harper government’s 2014 Canada Health Accord will cut an estimated $36 billion in federal transfer payments to the provinces over the next ten years (between 2014 and 2024).


While an Ipsos Reid poll conducted shortly after the signing of the agreement found that 81 per cent of Canadians say they are supportive of the deal, an Ipsos Reid poll we commissioned in September 2012 found that support for CETA collapses on the issue of pharmaceutical drug costs, with 69 per cent of Canadians opposing a deal that would lengthen patent protections for brand name drugs.

Trade campaigner Stuart Trew has commented, “The Indian government, which is also negotiating a trade and investment deal with Europe, successfully fought to take out the same drug patent changes because of their high cost. There is no good excuse why Canada, and the provinces, shouldn’t take the same position.”

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