New NAFTA Introduces 10-Year Duration for Drug Patents
10 octubre 2018

On September 30th, negotiations to renew NAFTA -the free trade agreement that unites the United States, Mexico, and Canada- finally culminated in a new tripartite agreement: the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). In this new agreement, compulsory patent and data protections for biotechnological drugs were raised from 8 years to 10 years. In the case of Mexico, the updated treaty must be introduced to the Senate for ratification in order to proceed to its subsequent enactment by the Executive. The Secretary of Economy of the country, Ildefonso Guajardo, stated that current President of the Republic, Enrique Peña Nieto, is likely to sign USMCA before leaving office in December 2018. He also considered that the agreement will probably come into force in the second semester of 2019.

The new agreement stipulates that patents and data from biotechnology companies must be protected for a period of 10 years (currently, NAFTA stipulates 8 years of protection). 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,  which “could lead to a serious shortage of drugs”.

USMCA is expected to be ratified by the Mexican Senate in the coming months, and subsequently signed at the G20 Leaders Summit that will bring together the three Heads of Government of Canada, Mexico and the United States in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 30th and December 1st of this year. In the first months of 2019, the congresses of the other two member countries will assess and ratify the agreement; it is thus likely it will enter into force in the second half of 2019 or the first half of 2020.