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    The $2 Billion Big Pharma Giveaway in CETA: Can the Government Ignore Its Own Internal Analysis?

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    Thursday October 18, 2012
    The Canada - EU Trade Agreement has been the subject of conflicting reports on the inclusion of ACTA provisions, but there has been no doubt about the ongoing dispute over the agreement's patent rules. Given the EU demands for significant patent reforms, the issue has been set aside with the ministers expected to address it when they meet in November.

    For months, big pharmaceutical companies (known as Rx&D) and civil society/the generic pharmaceutical industry have been battling over the issue. Each has released public opinion surveys that purport to demonstrate support for their position (Rx&D, civil society). More important has been a study that concluded that the proposed reforms could add billions to annual Canadian health care costs along with reports that show that the large pharmaceutical companies failed to meet research and development commitments the last time the Canadian government acquiesced to patent reform demands.

    While Rx&D sought to downplay those studies (as did the government, which described these concerns as a myth), it now faces an internal government study conducted by Industry Canada and Health Canada that placed the costs of CETA patent reform as high as $2 billion per year. The $2 billion cost would significantly decrease the government's claims of likely economic gains from CETA and heighten provincial opposition, since the costs will be offloaded to provincial health care budgets.


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    CETA Negotiations Continue Under Cloud of ACTA Concerns

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    Wednesday October 17, 2012
    The Canada - EU Trade Agreement negotiations continue this week in Brussels with both parties hoping to wrap up many outstanding issues. According to information provided by Canadian officials at a briefing earlier this month, the plan is to narrow the areas of disagreement to no more than ten issues, with ministers meeting in Europe in November to try to forge an agreement on the contentious areas. While patent issues will clearly be part of the November discussion, Canadian officials advised that the copyright chapter was largely concluded. In fact, when I asked directly whether the text would require changes to current Canadian copyright law, the response was that it would not. 

    Notwithstanding those reassurances, Canadian officials acknowledged the border measures issues were still unresolved. Moreover, days later a European briefing offered a somewhat different take on the copyright provisions. La Quadrature du Net, a leading European NGO, reports that the European Commission confirmed that the controversial criminal ACTA provisions were still included in the CETA draft.

    The reports have sparked a wave of new concern (see here, here, here, here, and here) with suggestions that ACTA is "back from the dead in Europe."


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    Government Study Finds CETA Drug Patent Reforms Would Cost Canadians Billions

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    Monday October 15, 2012
    The Canadian Press reports that an internal study by Industry Canada and Health Canada estimates that EU patent demands as part of the Canada - EU Trade Agreement could increase Canadian health care costs by up to $2 billion per year. The drug patent issue is viewed as a key roadblock in the CETA negotiations with the Canadian government holding off taking a position until ministers meet in November.
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    Gordon Ritchie on CETA and the TPP

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    Monday October 15, 2012
    Gordon Ritchie, one of the architects of the Canada - U.S. Free Trade Agreement, on CETA and the TPP:

    from what I have seen of the proposed deal with the European Community, it is not at all obvious what Canada stands to gain. The benefits are even less clear from Canadian participation in the trans-Pacific Partnership: we already have freer access than other countries to our major trading partner, the United States, and to Mexico.
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