Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his new Cabinet. There are a few changes where loyal members have been promoted, veterans moved, and a few new members added. Importantly, we have two new Ministers affecting our industry. From Quebec, Christian Paradis is the new Minister of Industry and, from British Columbia, Edward Fast is the new Minister of Trade and International Affairs. The Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance remain the same.
Canada's new Members of Parliament returned to Ottawa for the opening of Parliament and Throne speech on June 2. The Federal Budget was delivered on June 7.
The members of the important parliamentary committees on International Trade, Health, Industry and Finance have been established.
It is expected that Parliament will recess on June 23 for the summer returning in the fall. The break will allow the many new MPs to establish their constituency offices.
Canada Europe Trade Agreement
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 $2.8-billion annually to Canada’s prescription drug bill borne by our provincial governments and out of the pockets of patients and employers that sponsor drug plans for their employees.
Professor Aidan Hollis of the University of Calgary and Paul Grootendorst of the University of Toronto prepared a report titled, “The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement: An Economic Impact Assessment of Proposed Pharmaceutical Intellectual Property Provisions.” The report also estimates that the adoption of the EU's drug patent system proposals would delay the entry of generic drug products to Canada by 3.5 years on average.
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 RandD as a percentage of sales have for nine years been below the 10 percent threshold the brand-name drug industry committed to in 1987.
The next round of negotiations between Canada and the EU take place in Brussels in the week of July 11th. It is likely that an agreement would be finalized by 2012. As part of the CGPA, Mylan Pharmaceuticals is actively lobbying the government on this issue and encourages pharmacist and all industry stakeholders to do the same by writing to their provincial members of parliament.