Impact of CETA IP Proposal on Drug Costs

It has been a while since we took stock of where the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union was at so I thought I would use today’s blog as a bit of a catch up.

EU Canada Into the Home Negotiating Stretch

BELGIUM-EU-CANADA-DIPLOMACYMost recently, Prime Minister Harper was in the EU for a number of meetings with global and EU counterparts. President of the EU Council Van Rompuy and EU Commission President Barroso issued a statement following their meeting with Prime Minister Harper. The statement, although not fully corroborated by Canadian officials indicated that the “Strategic Partnership Agreement” was essentially finalized which would allow movement of the “technical and legal work expeditiously, so that it can be formally concluded as soon as possible.”

 CETA Not Likely to Increase Drug Costs

While negotiators finish off their work, here in Canada more research is being done in relation to the benefits and potential impact of the CETA agreement.

Last week, the Conference Board of Canada released a report entitled: Too Much or Not Enough IP? CETA and Changes to Canada's Pharmaceutical Regime.

The report found that provincial and territorial drug costs should not rise significantly as a result of CETA, at least in the short and medium terms. The agreement’s IP provisions don’t come into force until 2023 so Canada’s current regime will remain in place until then.

But the report went further and found that even in the longer term, that “trends observed in peer countries suggest that CETA may not cause significant price inflation.” Other jurisdictions with stronger intellectual property (IP) provisions (like the EU and Switzerland) do not have higher or much higher drug prices than Canada and have not seen their drug prices increase at a faster rate over the last several years.

So, given that Canada has been falling behind IP modernization when tested against our global competitors, the case has never been stronger to support a strong and vibrant IP system in Canada that:

  •         Should help increase Canada’s declining share of pharmaceutical R&D;
  •         Make the latest cutting edge drug research available to Canadian patients, and;
  •         That doesn’t dramatically increase drug costs.

I will be sure to blog more about the conclusion of these negotiations in the coming weeks as we find out more.


"There has been much debate about CETA's intellectual property provisions and their possible effects on Canada's pharmaceutical industry, prices, manufacturing capacity, and exports. As negotiated, CETA's intellectual property provisions could make Canada a more attractive place for R&D investment, because it extends the length of time during which a patent is valid. However, various factors contribute to pharmaceutical investment, of which patent length is just one." Gabriela Prada, Director, Health Innovation, Policy and Evaluation.