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EU free trade deal will hike drug prices in N.S. — minister

ChronicleHerald, Halifax, Canada

EU free trade deal will hike drug prices in N.S. — minister

15 November 2012

By David Jackson, Provincial Reporter

A concession on drug patents in a free trade deal with the European Union stands to cost Nova Scotians millions, Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson said Wednesday.

The Canadian Press reported this week that allowing longer protection for brand-name drugs before generic manufacturers can produce them could cost provincial governments, employers and consumers $367 million to $903 million a year, said an internal federal government calculation.

Wilson couldn’t peg what portion of that would be in Nova Scotia.

“We know it’s in the millions of dollars,” Wilson said at Province House.

“Until we have more of what the details are, we can’t really put a figure on what it will cost Nova Scotians or the government of Nova Scotia.”

Canadian and European Union officials have said the negotiations are drawing to a close but are expected to continue into the new year.

A spokesman for International Trade Minister Ed Fast told CP that until the deal is done, “speculation on any final outcomes would be precisely that — inaccurate speculation.”

A leaked 2010 document revealed that the EU wanted Canada to alter its drug policy, including a provision to extend intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical companies to 10 years from eight.

That extension would delay access to cheaper generic drugs.

A 2011 study, commissioned by the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, estimated government, consumer and private insurer costs would rise by $70 million in Nova Scotia.

Matthias Brinkmann, the EU’s ambassador to Canada, said in October that Canada’s drug policy lags behind international standards and the requested changes would reflect that.