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CETA Reached "In Principle", Part Four: Pharma Gets Patent Extension Despite Declining R&D in Canada

As noted in another post on the CETA intellectual property provisions, one of the key elements in the deal from a European perspective was patent term restoration, which effectively allows the large pharmaceutical companies to extend the term of their patents (additional posts on the need to release the draft text and the telecom and e-commerce provisions). The change will delay the entry of generic alternatives and, as acknowledged by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, will raise health care costs across the country (estimates run into the billions). In fact, the Ontario government has already indicated that it may seek compensation (or "mitigate the impact") for the additional costs.

Ironically, the CETA deal comes just as the government's Patented Medicines Prices Review Board issued its annual report that shows that the major pharmaceutical companies spending to sales ratio continues a decade-long decline, hitting its lowest level since the last time the Canadian government caved to pressure for patent reforms. According to the PMPRB released data (which is gathered from the companies themselves), the  R&D-to-sales ratio for members of Rx&D (the lead pharma lobby) was 6.6% in 2012, down from 6.7% in 2012. The Rx&D ratio has now been less than 10% for the past ten consecutive years and is approaching its lowest level since tracking began in 1988.  From a global perspective, Canada fares very poorly, ranking ahead of only Italy with countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., and U.S. all seeing greater expenditures.


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CETA Reached "In Principle", Part Three: Meaningless Claims on Telecom & E-commerce

Without the CETA text, it is very difficult to assess many of the purported benefits of the draft agreement (additional posts on the need to release the text, the IP provisions, and the big win for pharmaceutical companies despite declining Canadian investment in research and development).  Consider the benefits for telecommunications and electronic commerce discussed in the government's summary document.  On electronic commerce, the government states:

Businesses engaged in electronic commerce will benefit from greater certainty, confidence and
protection.
Twenty years ago, electronic commerce was in its infancy. Today, electronic commerce is a part of our daily lives. Canadians shop and plan holidays online, and buy and download software and entertainment content, including movies, television and music. Advertisers are making increased use of “smart advertising” on the Web to track our shopping habits and promote specific deals likely to interest us.


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Canada - EU Trade Agreement Reached "In Principle", Part Two: The Intellectual Property Provisions

Intellectual property was one of the most contentious aspects of the CETA negotiations, with copyright, patents, and geographic indications all sources of concern. A summary of the impact of CETA on each is posted below (additional posts on the need to release the text and the telecom and e-commerce provisions).

Copyright

Early CETA drafts included extensive copyright provisions that would have rendered Canadian copyright law virtually unrecognizable from its current state.  The EU position on copyright changed after two developments in 2012. First, Canada passed long-awaited copyright reform that addressed several concerns, most notably legal protection for digital locks and ISP liability. Second, the EU abandoned many of the remaining demands after the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in July 2012 to reject Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, striking a major blow to the hopes of supporters who envisioned a landmark agreement that would set a new standard for intellectual property rights enforcement. 


The resulting copyright provisions appear benign, as the government is claiming that CETA is consistent with current Canadian law:


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Canada - EU Trade Agreement Reached "In Principle", Part One: Now Release the Text

Canada and the European Union this morning formally announced that it they have reached an agreement in principle on the Canada - EU Trade Agreement (CETA) (additional posts on the IP provisions, telecom and e-commerce provisions, and the big win for pharmaceutical companies despite declining Canadian investment in research and development). Unfortunately, there was no release of the text and one is apparently not forthcoming for some time as the government argues that there is still some drafting and legal analysis needed (and presumably translation into several languages). However, without the actual text, the public is forced to rely on summary documents that merely provide an overview of the agreement. A transparent process mandates that all Canadians have access to the full text.  While the approval process will take a couple of years, Canada and the EU should release the draft text now.
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