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NEWS: Canada-EU CETA would drive up pharmaceutical drug costs

The National Post reports this morning that, “Canada’s pharmaceutical industry and the European Union have been quietly lobbying for changes that could give brand-name drugs several years more patent protection here — and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to Canadian medication costs annually.”

“The EU has reportedly proposed the measures be included in a landmark free-trade agreement now being negotiated between the jurisdictions, with the fifth round starting last week in Ottawa. The changes would delay the entry of cheaper, generic copies of medication onto the market…”
“One change (to the current 20-year patent on newly invented medicinal molecules) would extend the patent period to compensate for delays in the approval process for a new drug. Another would lengthen the so-called data-protection period by about two years, delaying generic copying of certain drugs without active patents. The issue being pursued most vociferously by the industry, though, relates to a process under which brand companies can challenge a generic firm as it applies to copy a drug still under patent. The brand gets an automatic stay of up to two years on the generic version entering the market while a court rules on the issue. But if the brand company loses, it cannot appeal the decision, unlike the generic competitor. The brand-name industry is pushing for that right of appeal.”

“Brand-name companies and some provinces say the measures are needed to restore fairness to the complex patent system, and generate more drug research in Canada. The generic industry, however, is voicing outrage at the proposals, insisting they will do nothing positive for Canada. ‘This would be a nasty piece of policy if it went through,’ said Jim Keon, head of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association.”

“At least three provinces have written letters in support of the (brand-name) industry stance, including Alberta, where a senior aide in the premier’s office used to work for a major pharmaceutical company. …Quebec and New Brunswick also sent letters of support to Tony Clement, the federal Industry Minister.”

“While many Canadians are barely aware of the trade talks, Peter Van Loan, the International Trade Minister, has predicted that the eventual deal would bring billions of dollars in benefits to Canada’s economy. He refused in an emailed statement to comment on the drug-patent issue, saying he does not want to negotiate in the media, but noted that the government ‘is committed to opening markets for Canadian workers and businesses.'”

The full article is at http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Trade+deal+would+include+increased+protection+brand+name+drugs/3719673/story.html#ixzz13N8hML00.