Friday, October 18, 2013

The Mulroney Conservatives created and the Harper Conservatives exacerbate high drug costs for all Canadians

Successive Conservative Governments in Canada have created protections for drug company patents that have and will result in skyrocketing health-care costs in Canada. I believe everyone can agree that costs of drugs are one of the major expenses that drive the cost of health-care in Canada.

On September 4th, 1984 Brian Mulroney became the Prime Minister of Canada with the largest majority in Canadian history. In the spring of 1985 he met then US President Ronald Reagan in Quebec City, in what has come to be known as the ‘Shamrock Summit’.

The Shamrock Summit was so-named because of the Irish background of the two leaders, and due to the meeting being held on St. Patrick's Day, the event is considered a major political-cultural episode in Canada, mostly on the basis of the perceived symbolism of the summit. It was also a prelude to Mulroney's efforts to create far closer links between Canada and the United States, culminating in the 1988 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

Commentator Eric Kierans observed that "The general impression you get, is that our prime minister invited his boss home for dinner." Canadian historian Jack Granatstein said that this "public display of sucking up to Reagan may have been the single most demeaning moment in the entire political history of Canada's relations with the United States."

Further adding to the controversy was Mulroney's insistence that he greet the President upon his arrival, and not Jeanne Sauvé, the then Governor General of Canada. This was perceived in the media as evidence of suspicions that Mulroney was slowly elevating the stature of his office, giving it more presidential trappings and aura.

Reagan came to the Summit with an agenda, he wanted Canada to impose patent drug legislation giving drug manufacturers more extensive protection, thereby limiting generic drug manufacturers and creating more expensive drug costs for Canadians. Reagan wanted this protection because he was being hammered in Washington by the pharmaceutical lobby to get Canada in line over a fear of the Europeans adopting what the lobbyists considered to be lax Canadian protections for their drug company clients.

The multinational drug industry was strongly opposed to compulsory licensing, despite any evidence that its economic position had been harmed. Restoration of patent protection for drugs was one of the key U.S. demands during free-trade negotiations between Canada and the United States in 1985-1987. The result was Bill C-22, which gave new drugs protection from compulsory licensing for seven to ten years.

Previously, in response to high drug prices, the Liberal Government of the day, headed by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, amended the country's patent act in 1969 to allow for compulsory licensing to import pharmaceuticals. As a result of the legislation, by 1983 drug costs in Canada were over $200 million lower than they would otherwise have been.

For a chronological report on patent drug legislation in Canada, I refer you to;

Now we have the Harper Conservatives announcing a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) that everyone believes will exacerbate the high costs of drugs for all Canadians.

As explained by the media, drug companies will now receive an extra two years for their patents, "meaning lower cost generics won’t be available as early in Canada".

According to; the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Health Coalition have been urging the federal government to remove drug policies from the deal.

"The two non-governmental agencies released a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid that shows high support for a Canada-EU free trade deal were it not for the issue of pharmaceutical drug costs. It said 69 percent of Canadians opposed to a deal that would lengthen patent protections for brand name drugs," notes a 2011 report by the online magazine.

"The agencies also cited a 2011 University of Toronto study that found lengthening patent terms for drugs in Canada would increase the cost of public and private drug plans in Canada by at least $2.8 billion. The extra costs come from delaying the introduction of cheaper generic drugs by 3.5 years.”

All of the evidence suggests that the patent protection introduced by the Mulroney Conservatives and now extended by the Harper Conservatives has and will have a very negative affect on the pockets of all Canadians, but more importantly on the incomes of Middle Class and lower income Canadians.

I encourage your comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment