Critics of trade agreements such as the TPP and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement has emphasized that a key concern is that deals will lead to increased costs for pharmaceutical drugs. At a recent Standing Committee on Health hearing on the development of a national pharmacare program, officials with Health Canada confirmed that they expect prices to increase but remain unsure about how much (hat tip: Blacklock’s Reporter). The exchange came from questions by NDP MP Don Davies:
Mr. Davies: Canada has just signed two trade deals, CETA and the TPP, which have new intellectual property provisions. All the literature and opinions I’ve read indicate that this will delay the introduction of generics to market for some time. I’m seeing estimates of two years as about what it’s going to take. Ms. Hoffman, has the department done some analysis on the likely impact of TPP and CETA, and is it true that those trade deals will likely increase the prices that Canadians pay for pharmaceuticals and add a little bit of mud to that already dirty picture?
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Earlier Trouble with the TPP posts focused on the health care implications of the agreement, focusing on patent term extensions, biologics protection, and limits on medical devices and pharma data collection. There is another health-related aspect of the TPP worthy of examination, but it is easy to miss. Chapter 26 of the TPP addresses transparency and anti-corruption, which is not the place you would expect to find provisions with a direct impact on health care. Yet Annex 26-A contains a full section on “transparency and procedural fairness for pharmaceutical products and medical devices.” What does this section do? The key aspect is to establish mandatory requirements for a national pharmacare program:
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Yesterday I posted
on how the Canadian IP Council, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s IP lobby arm, floated false claims about the scope of counterfeiting in Canada in an attempt to bolster claims for increased border measures. The Chamber placed Canadian countefeiting costs at $30 billion per year, a figure that has no basis in fact and that even RCMP no longer supports.
The Chamber’s false claims on counterfeiting are not the only intellectual property issue where their arguments have been debunked as inaccurate. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on the proposed trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, which could have big implications for the costs of pharmaceutical drugs, on which Canadians spend $22 billion annually.
The E.U. is home to many of the world’s big brand name pharmaceutical companies and one of their chief goals is to extend Canada’s intellectual property rules to delay the availability of lower cost generic alternatives. Earlier this year, the Chamber’s IP Council released a report claiming that Canada lags behind other countries and encouraging the Canadian government to follow the European example by extending the term of pharmaceutical patents and “data exclusivity.”
The CIPC (which counts several brand name pharmaceutical companies as members) claims the reforms would lead to increased pharmaceutical research and development in Canada. But last month University of Toronto law professor Edward Iacobucci released a study that thoroughly debunks the CIPC claims, predicting increased consumer costs and noting that there is little evidence the changes would increase employment or research spending.
Iacobucci’s blunt assessment of the report:
The CIPC Report does not offer objectivity in its assessment of Canada’s patent regime. It rather is a straightforward piece of advocacy on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical sector. The Report makes no effort to place Canada’s patent law in an international context or address international relations, but instead simply asserts without justification that Canada would suffer if it fails to grant the same concessions to the pharmaceutical industry that the EU and US have made. The flaws in this basic approach undermine each of the CIPC Report’s recommendations.
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Continuing the review of submissions to DFAIT regarding the Canada-EU Trade Agreement, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association warned against the inclusion of any intellectual property provisions: The very fact that both Canada and EU have robust IP systems in place should be a sufficient basis on which to enhance and […]
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