Expanding Access to Life-Saving Medicines: What Government Must Do Next to Continue Reforming Drug Patents in South Africa

Late last month, Health GAP's Senior Policy Analyst Professor Brook K. Baker made a submission with Yousuf Vawda to the government of South Africa calling for steps the government must take in order to implement its Draft Intellectual Property Strategy 2017 and reform how patents on medicines are granted in South Africa. These proposed changes from the government came about after targeted activist pressure from the Fix the Patent Laws campaign, led by Treatment Action Campaign, Médecins Sans Frontières, and other AIDS activists. Read the full submission here.

A letter to the U.S. Trade Representative re: South Africa’s efforts to promote access to life-saving medicines

Health GAP and its allies sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative urging the government and pharmaceutical industry not to interfere with South Africa’s efforts to promote access to life-saving medicines.


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Canada Blinks in Face of US/Pharma Pressure – Supreme Court Adopts Wink-Wink Patent Utility Rule

In a stunning reversal of policy, on June 30, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned decades of precedent making it easier for the biopharmaceutical industry to gain patents on medicines without any real proof of a claim that a putative invention has any meaningful utility.  This reversal in AstraZeneca Canada Inc. v. Apotex, Inc. is particularly disconcerting because Canada had just won an investor-state arbitration award in the long awaited Eli Lilly v. Canada case upholding its more stringent promise/utility doctrine that had been used successfully to overturn two dozen secondary patents, particularly those claiming new uses of known medicines, where patent claimants failed to present evidence in support of the prediction of therapeutic benefit promised in their patent applications.

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Trump’s Draft Executive Order on Pharmaceutical Pricing: Dangerous Medicine for Consumers at Home and Abroad

BY: Professor Brook K. Baker, Northeastern U. School of Law, Health GAP Senior Policy Analyst

[click here to see recent post on this subject]

A draft of President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) on “Reducing the Costs of Medical Products and Enhancing American Biomedical Innovation” has been leaked, and the text provides a concerning first look at the administration’s dangerous medicine for consumers at home and abroad. As expected, the leaked text places significant blame for high US prices, not on the monopolies enjoyed by biopharmaceutical companies, but on foreign countries that “pay too little” for medicines and that “devalue American innovation,” for example by utilizing price controls or refusing to list for reimbursement drugs that are priced in excess of their therapeutic value. There is no evidence that these policy moves by foreign countries are responsible for high drug prices in the US.

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Trump’s Drug Pricing Executive Order is Likely to be an Unfettered Giveaway to Big Pharma: Insights from 2017 Special 301 Report

BY: Professor Brook K. Baker, Northeastern University School of Law; Health GAP, Senior Policy Analyst  

An Executive Order (EO) on drug pricing anticipated from President Trump will advance intellectual property standards and protections that support unrestricted monopoly pricing by multinational biologic and pharmaceutical companies overseas. Far from reducing prices for US consumers, these efforts will obstruct access to essential medicines in foreign countries while maintaining price-gouging practices in the US. The EO will do so based on claims that foreign countries provide insufficient protection for US pharmaceutical companies’ monopoly interests and thus that US consumers and payers pay more than their fair share towards research and development.  According to a leaked memorandum addressing President Trump’s expected Executive Order on drug prices and trade policy:  

Extending the patent life of drugs in foreign markets to “provide for protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights” will ensure “that American consumers do not unfairly subsidize research and development for people throughout the globe.” 

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