PhRMA Calls Out Foreign Countries Over Patent and Pricing Policies

PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s trade group, filed comments with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative asking for “urgent action” against two dozen countries over their drug-pricing policies and failure to enforce patent rights. The group wants the Trump administration to include PhRMA’s concerns in the annual “Special 301” watch list, which ranks countries based on their willingness to protect intellectual property.

The trade group made a point of singling out Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and Canada for the following actions:

  • The Malaysian government issued a compulsory license for generic companies to supply a version of Gilead’s hepatitis C pill to public facilities. (A country may grant a license to a generic drug maker that allows it to copy a patented medicine without consent from the brand-name company.)
  • The South Korean government matches prices for the newest medicines to prices of existing off-patent and generic drugs, which purportedly “results in unsustainably low prices for innovative drugs.”
  • The Japanese government launched a new drug-pricing scheme, and PhRMA argued the program has “discriminatory elements that clearly target foreign firms for additional price cuts and is out of line with international norms and best practices.”
  • The Canadian government overhauled the framework used to set drug prices. Right now, this is accomplished by benchmarking prices against what drug makers currently charge in seven other countries, including the U.S. The government wants to remove the U.S. from this list due to its higher prices.

Sources: STAT News, February 8, 2019.