Third, the issue of patent reform, which is a key EU demand on behalf of its pharmaceutical industry, remains unresolved. Verheul made it clear that the issue has not been discussed and Canada is not prepared to counter the EU demands at this time. In fact, he suggested that it was unlikely the patent dispute would be discussed during the next two rounds of talks.
So what is the likely next step on the issue?
Verheul noted that the parties hope to narrow the areas of disagreement to between 5 to 10 issues by October. While he did not say so directly, it was clear that patents would remain on this list. At that time, the issue would shift to cabinet with negotiators awaiting political direction on what Canada is prepared to do on each issue. In other words, the government will make a major decision on patents with billions in health care costs at stake behind closed doors with no public discussion, debate, or official access to proposed language. Instead, the public will find out if Canada caved to EU pressure on the patent issue once the text is concluded and it is too late to do anything about it.