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London Activists Protest Rising Drug Costs Under CETA

By Ailish Morgan-Welden

More than 20 activists gathered at London West MP Ed Holder’s office Wednesday evening (July 11) to voice their concerns about how a proposed trade agreement between Canada and the European Union will affect pharmaceutical drug costs.

The rally was organized by the Stop CETA Trade Justice Coalition, an affiliate group of the London Chapter of the Council of Canadians, to raise awareness about potential impacts of CETA. Activists cited a joint study by the University of Toronto and the University of Calgary, which found that Canadians could face a $2.8 billion increase in drug costs annually under new rights in CETA for brand name drug companies. In a press release, activists expressed concerns that, in addition to extending exclusivity rights from 8 to 10 years, the new policy would be retroactively granted to expired patents such as Zoloft, forcing generic drug manufacturers out of Canada.

Conservative MP Ed Holder sits on the parliamentary trade committee. In May, the City of London voted to opt out of CETA until further details about the agreement are made clear. Stop CETA is planning a series of rallies to raise awareness about the trade agreement and its potential consequences. A second rally, focused on investor-state lawsuits, will be held on Wednesday, July 25 at Ed Holder’s office from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.