NAFTA Negotiations Introduce 10-Year Duration for Drug Patents
12 septiembre 2018

As part of the discussions to renegotiate the tripartite North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico and the United States reached a bilateral understanding at the end of August, which doesn’t include Canada. In this agreement, 10-year-long compulsory patent and data protections for biotechnological drugs were incorporated into the treaty. In order for the measure to be applied in the three North American countries, Canada’s approval is necessary. For this reason, Canada is negotiating with the United States and Mexico in order to arrive at a commercial treaty agreed upon by the three parties. It is estimated that the delegations will conclude their negotiations by the beginning of November.

Specifically, the agreement stipulates that patents and data from biotechnology companies must be protected for a period of 10 years. The Mexican pharmaceutical industry has reacted negatively to this announcement; the Mexican Association of Generics (Amegi) said that this measure would represent a considerable expense for the country’s pharmaceutical companies, which will have to face higher costs in their production, affecting “the supply of drugs at lower prices, with guaranteed safety and quality, which could lead to a serious shortage of drugs”.

Although the NAFTA agreement has not yet been confirmed, given the lack of approval by Canada, it is expected that the chapters affecting the pharmaceutical industry will not be discussed and will be left as they were written in the agreement between Mexico and the U.S. This is due to the fact that it is not one of the key points in the negotiation with Canada, a country that prioritizes the protection of its dairy industry and the elimination of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.