Generic and biosimilar access top NAFTA priority for Canadians: CGPA

by Leo Almazora26 Sep 2018

Among the issues tabled for discussion amid the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations between Canada and the US, the question of extended data protections for biologic drugs is most important to Canadians.

That’s the key finding of a new poll from the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), which was conducted online from a sample of 2,203 adults. According to the CGPA, extended periods of data protection is one of several NAFTA proposals that could require changes to Canada’s laws and delay the timing of entry of lower-cost generic and biosimilar drugs into the market.

“This poll confirms that Canadians do not support any concessions in a new NAFTA that will delay their access to more affordable generic and biosimilar medicines,” said Jim Keon, president of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Respondents to the survey felt that access to more affordable prescription medicines is much more important than any other area — including supply management systems for agricultural products, automotive issues, and exemptions for cultural industries — that’s dominated media coverage of NAFTA 2.0 negotiations.

Canadians believed that increased access to affordable prescription medicines is the most important outcome in the talks. Four out of five agreed that NAFTA revisions should not delay Canadians’ access to more affordable versions of expensive biologic drugs.

The poll identified other critical NAFTA 2.0 outcomes such as:

  • Not create barriers to the implementation of national pharmacare (important to four out of five Canadians);
  • Not increase prescription drug costs, delay access to affordable drugs, or limit options of prescription-drug coverage (two out of three Canadians); and
  • Put Canadians’ access to affordable prescription-drug coverage ahead of the profits of US-based brand-name drug companies (more than 80% of Canadians)

“The CGPA urges the Government of Canada to stand firm and not trade away timely access to generic and biosimilar medicines in a new NAFTA,” said Keon.

“Any such concessions would be harmful to Canadians, harmful to our industry and provide an enormous gift to the brand-name pharmaceutical industry – an industry that already enjoys some of the highest prices in the world for their products and some of the world's most favourable IP laws, while making virtually no investments in Canada.”


Related stories:
Labour group president issues call to 'get pharmacare right'
Canadians with rare disorders will be hit by proposed PMPRB changes, warns study