[Ip-health] France gets an A+ from the US for its anti consumer intellectual property related policies

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Thu Sep 8 13:43:01 PDT 2011

France gets an A+ from the US for its anti consumer intellectual
property related policies
Submitted by Manon Ress on 8. September 2011 - 14:33

In this cable dated February 2010, Chargé d’Affaires Mark Pekala, --on
the basis of industry submissions-- recommends against the inclusion
of France on the 2010 Special 301 Watch List. According to the cable,
"France has, in fact, improved the pharmaceutical R & D environment"
and the cable author Mark Pekala sees no evidence of lack of IPR
protection or market access. In addition, France has also been "at the
forefront of copyright protection and anti-counterfeiting on the
Internet," with the first graduated response enforcement mechanism in
Europe and a public-private sector charter against online

Below I highlight how Sarkozy's France is doing everything and more to
please the pharmaceutical lobby and the copyright industry.

It starts with "PhRMA concerns" that the French government "is
employing different strategies to limit the cost of its reimbursable
drug program, including aggressive use of generics and campaigns to
reduce consumption." To make matters worst (for PhRMA), it is not that
simple to get a drug on the reimbursable list. First it is necessary
to "approach France's "Transparency Committee," made up of
epidemiologists, pharmacologists, medical doctors and other experts."
The Committee assigns "an "innovation" rating from ASMR I to ASMR V (I
representing a "major therapeutic advance," V "no treatment benefit")
based on clinical criteria." Price negotiations can only start once
the rating has been set. The complicated process is well described in
paragraph 3 of the cable.

However, the picture is not all grim since: "the structure of
pharmaceutical sales in France has changed in recent years to favor
more expensive products." The French patients and doctors apparently
"prefer innovative and expensive drugs, even when less expensive ones
are as effective," therefore the possibility of "higher prices for
innovative specialties makes France an attractive location for the
early commercialization of innovative therapies."

It gets better. According to the cable, and noted favorably in PhRMA's
Special 301 submission, President Sarkozy is also personally involved
in helping PhRma prevent parallel imports: "President Sarkozy
personally re-convened the relatively inactive Strategic Council for
Health Industries (ref B) that brought together himself, five
government ministers, and 15 CEOs of major U.S. and other foreign
pharmaceutical and medical device companies to discuss how the health
sector can become an engine of economic recovery in France. During the
meeting, the GOF announced it will begin to allow pharmaceutical
companies to charge two prices for drugs: one fixed price for drugs
reimbursed by government health services and an unregulated price for
non-reimbursable drugs and/or exports. This pricing strategy would
prevent parallel imports that undercut market strategy and sales in
export markets, a key issue for U.S. firms. Sarkozy and the CEOs also
signed an agreement for a newly-established 140 million euro (USD 208
million) investment fund for innovative firms in the medical biotech

And, on the whole, PhRMA is rather pleased with France.

And when it comes to copyright..."France's Aggressive Copyright
Protection" seems to be "may be more stringent than the U.S.!" France
is even described as "a trailblazer" regarding internet and copyright
enforcement. Of course, France is sometimes misguided, for example, as
to their idea to "tax online ads (the "Google tax") as a way to
compensate authors (mainly publishers) for their losses." According to
the cable, President Sarkozy is taking an anti-competitive approach
and French authorities are now studying whether Google abused its
dominant position in the online advertising market."

In conclusion, "France is at the forefront of IPR protection in
Europe" and "in the case of aggressive three strikes laws, may be more
stringent than the U.S." And "France's national health insurance cost
containment efforts do not deny adequate and effective IP protection
to the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, nor do they prevent fair and
equitable market access." The US Embassy, the " Post" therefore "will
continue to support U.S. pharmaceutical industry efforts to expand
markets in France." What's good for the US pharmaceutical industry is
good for the French consumers?

The full cable follows:

Manon Anne Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009 USA
manon.ress at keionline.org

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