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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 11711

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: Journal Article

Faunce TA, Lexchin J.
'Linkage' pharmaceutical evergreening in Canada and Australia.
Aust New Zealand Health Policy 2007 Jun 1; 4:(1):8
http://www.anzhealthpolicy.com/content/4/1/8


Abstract:

‘Evergreening’ is not a formal concept of patent law. It is best understood as a social idea used to refer to the myriad ways in which pharmaceutical patent owners utilise the law and related regulatory processes to extend their high rent-earning intellectual monopoly privileges, particularly over highly profitable (either in total sales volume or price per unit) ‘blockbuster’ drugs. Thus, while the courts are an instrument frequently used by pharmaceutical brand name manufacturers to prolong their patent royalties, ‘evergreening’ is rarely mentioned explicitly by judges in patent protection cases. The term usually refers to threats made to competitors about a brand-name manufacturer’s tactical use of pharmaceutical patents (including over uses, delivery systems and even packaging), not to extension of any particular patent over an active product ingredient. This article focuses in particular on the ‘evergreening’ potential of so-called ‘linkage’ provisions, imposed on the regulatory (safety, quality and efficacy) approval systems for generic pharmaceuticals of Canada and Australia, by specific articles in trade agreements with the US. These ‘linkage’ provisions have also recently appeared in the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUSFTA). They require such drug regulators to facilitate notification of, or even prevent, any potential patent infringement by a generic pharmaceutical manufacturer. This article explores the regulatory lessons to be learnt from Canada’s and Australia’s shared experience in terms of minimizing potential adverse impacts of such ‘linkage evergreening’ provisions on drug costs and thereby potentially on citizen’s access to affordable, essential medicines.

Keywords:
evergreening patent


Notes:

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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963