by Marco Verch(CC BY 2.0)

Yesterday evening, the NAFTA negotiations between Mexico, Canada and the US closed, reaching an agreement to maintain the trilateral trade pact that will now be called USMCA (the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement). The next step is for the three countries to ratify the agreement.

The renegotiation of NAFTA raised the concern of the health sector in Mexico, as it envisaged an increase in the years of intellectual protection for biological medicine patents. So far, no government has declared how it will reinforce intellectual property laws and how it will affect patents on medicines for the three countries. It is only known that it was a matter of negotiation. But Donald Trump, President of the US hinted at a favorable outcome for the US on the matter. “It will be the most advanced trade deal in the world with ambitious previsions on the digital economy, patents and financial areas that show a competitive advantage for the US,” he said in a statement.

During the negotiation, the premise of a standard 10-years protection period for biological medicine patents was raised and with it, other proposals arrived. “The 10-year span is more than what had existed before (in the case of Mexico, essentially nothing; with Canada, an eight-year term on the books) but the biopharma industry has long argued for the same 12-year exclusivity that exists for biologics within the US market,” says Pharmaceutical Commerce.

The US would certainly benefit from an increase in the patent years and strengthening of the intellectual property laws since it is a leading country in the manufacture of biotechnological medicines. The Pharmaceutical Research and Marketing Group compiled a ranking of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, among which are companies such as Pfizer, Abbvie, Jonhson and Jonhson, Merck, Novartis, Gilead and Amgen. The US is home to seven out of 10 leading pharmaceutical countries in the world.

But if the intellectual protection timeframe is raised to eight or 10 years, it means the population would have to wait longer to be able to access biotechnological medicines such as oncological medicines. This could be a worrying scenario for Mexico, since last week the National Association of Manufacturers of Medicines (Anafam) confirmed a shortage of oncological medicines in public institutions.

Now, all the healthcare industry can do is wait.

Alessa Flores

by Alessa Flores

Industry Analyst and Journalist at Mexico Business Publishing

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