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NEWS: Wynne government raises concerns about drug prices under CETA

Last Friday, iPolitics reported, “In a letter (to the Harper government) written on May 2 by Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment Dr. Eric Hoskins and Health Minister Deb Matthews, both clarify that European demands for increased pharmaceutical patent protection are far from settled.”

Photos: Ontario trade minister Eric Hoskins, health minister Deb Matthews.

Hoskins and Matthews write that “issues related to patents for pharmaceutical products … have important implications for Ontario…” The provincial cabinet ministers add, “Ontario has asked the federal government to refrain from making changes to the pharmaceutical patent regime that impose additional financial costs on Ontario or that would negatively impact our province’s economy.” Postmedia News has previously reported, “Ontario, which like all provinces is struggling with aging populations and soaring health-care costs, would experience the biggest cost rise (with changes to drug patent rules in CETA) at $1.2 billion (annually).”

In May 2011, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew and health campaigner Adrienne Silnicki met with the Ontario government to discuss the drug patent issue. In September 2012, the Council staged a political action on Parliament Hill to make the case that the premiers were gambling with health care if they agreed to European demands. That same month, we launched an on-line action on our website which asks all provincial governments to reject new patent rules in CETA.

To read Stuart’s blog on this issue, please see ‘Ontario government wants patents taken out of Canada-EU deal‘.

Also it should be noted that NDP leader Adrian Dix is expected to be elected tomorrow as the next premier of British Columbia. In May 2012, Postmedia News reported, “Dix said the (Harper) government’s unilateral reduction in the growth of health transfers, and support for a proposed Canadian-European trade deal that could trigger higher prescription drug prices, could cause problems in the provincial health-care system.” In August 2012, a BC NDP media release stated, “By stopping the pharmaceutical provisions of CETA, promoting best practices in prescribing, expanding access to generic drugs and protecting consumers against the rising cost of brand name drugs we can free up resources to invest in primary care, disease prevention and home support.”

Provincial health ministers will be meeting in Toronto this coming September and the issue of CETA and its drug patent provisions may well be on their agenda.

For more, please see:
ACTION ALERT: Ontario opposes higher drug prices in Canada-EU trade deal – What does your province think?
Drug prices a controversial CETA issue
CETA and Health Care: A Lesson in Lobbying
NEWS: BC, Ontario, Manitoba raise concerns about CETA and drug costs
NEWS: Drug patent issues could ‘make or break’ CETA
Dix critical of higher drug prices under CETA