Harper government giving into European drug patent demands during free trade negotiations. Move could raise drug prices in Canada by as much as $1 billion.
Ottawa (15 Nov. 2012) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is asking that the Harper government reconsider giving in to European demands on pharmaceuticals in the Canada-EU trade negotiations. The union points out that the proposed changes to patent protections could raise the cost of drugs in Canada by as much as $1 billion.
Canadian Press (CP) is reporting that International Trade Minister Ed Fast will be agreeing to some of the pharmaceutical demands from Europe during upcoming negotiations for the Canada-Europe free trade agreement.
"That the federal government would ignore the interests of provincial governments and the majority of Canadians is unacceptable," said Larry Brown, NUPGE National Secretary-Treasurer.
"Provincial governments need to demand that this crazy push to sign such an expensive trade deal be stopped in its tracks. The federal government needs to remember that it should represent all Canadians and not just large corporations."
Sources have told CP that Fast is agreeing to give the EU longer patent protection for brand-name pharmaceuticals. This comes despite growing opposition from the provinces and Canada's generic drug industry.
Experts point out that the deal would require provincial governments, employers and consumers buy brand-name drugs for a longer period instead of the cheaper generics.
Recently, it was revealed that internal government research estimated the cost of the changes to the patent regime at somewhere between $367 million and $903 million a year.
A poll conducted by Ipsos Reid (available here) for the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Health Coalition, shows that otherwise high support for a Canada-European Union free trade deal collapses on the issue of pharmaceutical drug costs, with 69 per cent of Canadians opposing a deal that would lengthen patent protections for brand name drugs.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE