At the beginning of February, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia to hear from witnesses as part of their study on the Canada EU Trade Agreement (CETA).
For today's blog, I thought I would look at the testimony provided by Karimah Es Sabar, President and Chief Executive Officer for The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD). Funded initially with the support of the Government of BC, followed by that of Industry Canada, CDRD is Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre. The mandate of the centre is to “de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transform them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector”. Put simply, CDRD helps to bridge the gap between academia and industry to help translate new research discoveries into new therapies for patients.
Ms. Es Sabar began her presentation to the committee by stating: “Trade agreements like the Canada-EU CETA, which this committee has been actively engaged in, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, both offer policy-makers the opportunity to support Canadian research and innovation, and the Canadian commercialization of research, while benefiting Canadian patients and creating jobs.” As Ms. Es Sabar highlighted, trade agreements such as the Canada EU Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership assist Canada in remaining globally competitive by encouraging improvements in our IP regime and attracting foreign capital for R&D.
Ms. Es Sabar continued on to explain that while Canada is among world leaders in academic health research, there are still challenges in bringing new therapies to market. CDRD was established in 2007 to provide expertise and infrastructure to ease the transitions between discoveries and commercialization. Over six years, CDRD enterprise has established an international and national affiliated network of 40 institutions. Important to achieving CDRD’s goals, however, are the securities of a national patent protection regime, which is equally as strong as those of the trading partners.
Committee member and BC MP Russ Hiebert asked Ms. Es Sabar to provide examples of trading partners with stronger IP protections. She referred to what she called “top-tier” regulators and IP regimes – including the U.S., the EU, Japan and Australia in that grouping. Ms. Es Sabar indicated that Canada would be at the bottom of that tier, but can do better. The Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) is one opportunity that Canada has to close this gap.
As Ms. Es Sabar concluded, moving toward a stronger IP system in Canada will help create a globally competitive environment to support Canadian research and innovation and the commercialization of research, ultimately benefiting Canadian patients.
I'll be sure to cover more of the Committee Hearings in the coming weeks.