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NEWS: Eli Lilly files notice of NAFTA challenge against Canada over drug patents

Bloomberg reports, “Eli Lilly & Co. (has) filed a notice (against Canada) that it will seek arbitration under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement. …The Indianapolis-based firm claims recent decisions by Canadian courts invalidating 17 drug patents over ‘utility’ requirements have made the country an outlier among major developed countries. …Companies that produce generic drugs have challenged Lilly’s patent for Strattera, used for treating attention-deficit disorder. …The company said it hopes to resolve the dispute ‘through consultations and negotiations’.”

In August 2010, Bloomberg reported, “U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh in Newark, New Jersey, invalidated a patent on (Strattera) that would have prevented sales of copies until May 2017. The ruling yesterday favors generic-drug companies…. Lilly said it expects ‘near-term entry’ of generic versions and reduced its sales forecast (although the company reported $21.8 billion in revenue). The company is seeking to preserve patent protection on its drugs because Zyprexa and Cymbalta, accounting for more than a third of its revenue, already face generic competition by 2013.” But today, Bloomberg reports, “Last year, Lilly won an appeals court ruling in the U.S. that overturned a judge’s decision invalidating the Strattera patent.”

In September 2012, the Toronto Star reported, “There have been 174 reports of suspected serious side effects for Strattera since Health Canada approved its use in 2004.” Those “suspected serious side effects” include: “52 suicidal ideation; 10 suicide attempts; 7 intentional self-injury; 1 completed suicide.”

Colleen Fuller, co-founder of PharmaWatch, has commented on the situation of drug prices in Canada. She told the Vancouver Observer, “We have some of the highest drug prices in the world – and we have the lowest public funding for prescription medicines within the Organization for Economic and Co-operation and Development. We have the highest generic drug prices, the second-highest brand name prices, and one of the lowest levels of public funding. The lack of public involvement both in funding and monitoring drugs means that, not only are people exposed to a much higher risk when they use prescription medicines, but they’re paying a much higher price than they should be paying. The industry has huge tentacles in government both nationally and provincial. What they want is more drugs on the market, they want them approved quickly, they want to be able to charge the highest price that they possibly can, and the government should just butt out. All they care about is money, and that is the bottom line.”