EU PROPOSALS IN TRADE NEGOTIATIONS WOULD WIPE OUT SAVINGS FROM ONTARIO DRUG REFORMS

TORONTO, June 7, 2011 /CNW/ - Changes to Canada's drug patent system proposed by the European Union (EU) would wipe out the savings from Ontario government's drug reforms, Jim Keon, President of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), said today on the one-year anniversary of Ontario's drug system changes.

"The savings achieved for both public and private drug plans through the Ontario government's 2010 reforms would be wiped out if the EU's proposals are implemented," said Jim Keon, President of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA). "Canada's generic pharmaceutical manufacturers worked cooperatively with the Ontario government to implement last year's reforms. Those savings were supposed to help preserve and enhance Ontario's health-care system, not increase profits for brand-name drug companies based in Europe."

Canada and the EU are currently negotiating a comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA), which the federal government hopes to conclude by 2012. As part of these negotiations, the EU has tabled proposals that would considerably lengthen the period of market exclusivity for brand-name drugs in Canada and add approximately $1.2-billion annually to Ontario's prescription drug bill. Of that $1.2-billion, approximately $550-million would be borne by the Ontario government with the remainder, $672-million, coming out of the pockets of patients and employers that sponsor drug plans for their employees.

"At the one-year anniversary of the Ontario government's drug reforms, we are calling on the Government of Ontario and all of the organizations that supported these reforms to step up to the plate and take action to protect those savings," said Keon. "They need to make their voices heard now to ensure brand-name drug companies don't take Ontario's health-care money back to their head offices in Europe."

Keon pointed out that pharmaceuticals are one of the EU's top exports to Canada, comprising 15.6 percent of total exports with a value of more than $5 billion annually.

"Canada's generic pharmaceutical industry is a strong advocate for enhanced trade, and supports efforts by the Government of Canada to reduce barriers to trade. Fully 40 percent of the Canadian production of generic prescription drugs is exported to more than 115 countries," said Keon. "Extending market monopolies for brand-name drugs as the EU is requesting would not reduce trade barriers. It would, however, increase revenues for European-based drug companies at the expense of Canada's health-care system and increase trade barriers for Canadian generic pharmaceutical manufacturers."

A May 30, 2011 report by Edward M. Iacobucci, the Osler Chair in Business Law at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law, found that Canada's intellectual property system for pharmaceuticals is already stronger than that in any other industrial sector in Canada, and is in many ways stronger than pharmaceutical IP in the European Union (EU) and United States (US).

In his report, Iacobucci notes that, in Canada, brand-name pharmaceutical companies already benefit from protections that go beyond international standards, specifically:

  • An automatic injunction against generic competition of up to 24 months

  • Two rounds of patent infringement litigation on the same set of patents

  • No statutory incentive for generic pharmaceutical companies to challenge patents

  • Regulatory data protection that lasts several years longer than the international average

  • The ability to obtain patents on multiple aspects of a drug without any mechanism for generic companies to oppose a patent except through litigation

In addition, despite several increases to Canadian intellectual property protections, investments in R&D as a percentage of sales have for nine years been below the 10 percent threshold the brand-name drug industry committed to in 1987.

About the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association
The Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA) represents Canada's generic pharmaceutical industry. The industry plays an important role in controlling health-care costs in Canada. Generic drugs are dispensed to fill 58 per cent of all prescriptions but account for only 26 per cent of the $22-billion Canadians spend annually on prescription medicines.

SOURCE Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

For further information:

Jeff Connell
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA)
Tel: (416) 223-2333
Mobile: (647) 274-3379
Email: jeff@canadiangenerics.ca
Website: www.canadiangenerics.ca


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