Targeting Runaway Drug Costs

Targeting Runaway Drug Costs
Brian Masse's Private Member's Bill Debated in the House

OTTAWA - Brian Masse's Private Member's Bill 274 (C-274) will be debated for a second hour on Tuesday May 3rd in the House of Commons.

Mr. Masse's Private Member's Bill calls for the elimination of the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations. The Bill would close loopholes that allow pharmaceutical multinationals to inflate their profits at Canadians' expense.

"Prescription drug costs are ballooning faster than any other component of healthcare. That's driving up expenses for hospitals and for people taking medications at home. The average Canadian now spends nearly $700 annually on drugs. With no national pharmacare, some people can no longer afford the medicines they need. My Bill seeks to increase access to lower cost pharmaceutical products," said Masse

Brand name drug companies enjoy 20-year patents on new medicines, blocking competitors from offering cheaper generic versions. This Bill would close the loophole that lets brand-name producers automatically receive injunctions against generic competitors after their patents expire. These companies need only refer to newer patents they've listed on the same products - claiming different uses, different forms, or different names. Generic competitors win most of these cases, but it can take years to get there and that has cost Canadians over a billion dollars since 1993.

"The brand pharmaceutical industry can be characterized as being dominated by multi-national companies whose main activity is re-packaging products actually developed and manufactured in other countries. Voluntary commitments to R&D have not been met by the industry and it is time that they are kept to their promises," commented Masse.

"Bill C-274 would end the practice of using legal loopholes to effectively extend patents. If it passes, Canadians will get access to cheaper generic drugs sooner. The Government will be able to meet the promise it made to accelerate access to non-patented drugs at the First Ministers' meeting in September. Companies will stop spending millions of dollars on legal games to extend their monopoly rights--investing in new research instead."