[Ip-health] IAReporter: AS COLOMBIA PUSHES FOR CANCER DRUG PRICE-CUT AND CONSIDERS COMPULSORY LICENSING, NOVARTIS RESPONDS WITH QUIET FILING OF AN INVESTMENT TREATY NOTICE (paywall)

Andrew S. Goldman andrew.goldman at keionline.org
Thu Dec 1 08:34:00 PST 2016


This article (paywall) indicates that in April 2016 Novartis sent a letter
to the Colombian Ministry of Trade specifying the company's intent to file
a complaint under the Colombia-Switzerland BIT, in light of efforts by the
Colombian government to lower the price of the leukemia drug imatinib
(Glivec). For context, April was the month that the Minister of Health made
a final offer to Novartis on the price of Glivec after a technical
committee made the formal recommendation that a compulsory license on the
drug would be in the public interest. It was also the month that several
letters were leaked showing significant pressure on the Colombian
government from Senator Hatch's office. (More info here:
http://www.keionline.org/colombia).

We are trying to find out more as to where the complaint currently stands,
given that Colombia opted for a price reduction rather than a CL, and, as I
understand it, is still in the process of finalizing the methodology to be
used. The lack of transparency here is frustrating, but at a minimum this
illustrates the very real concerns regarding ISDS in trade agreements and
the power given to corporations to challenge decisions by sovereign nations
to take legal measures to curb excessive drug prices.

-Andy

https://www.iareporter.com/articles/investigation-as-colombia-pushes-for-cancer-drug-price-cut-and-considers-compulsory-licensing-novartis-responds-with-quiet-filing-of-an-investment-treaty-notice/

INVESTIGATION: AS COLOMBIA PUSHES FOR CANCER DRUG PRICE-CUT AND CONSIDERS
COMPULSORY LICENSING, NOVARTIS RESPONDS WITH QUIET FILING OF AN INVESTMENT
TREATY NOTICE

Nov 30, 2016 | By Zoe Williams

A move by the government of Colombia to pressure the Swiss pharmaceutical
giant Novartis to slash the price paid by the state’s health service for an
expensive cancer drug – or risk opening up of the patent to generic
competition – has attracted a threat of arbitration under the
Switzerland-Colombia bilateral investment treaty.

IAReporter have determined that Novartis lodged a formal notice of dispute
under the BIT in April of this year, after Colombia’s Health Ministry
pressed the Swiss firm to agree to a more than 50% price cut for the
blockbuster cancer chemotherapy drug, Imatinib. (Imatinib is marketed under
the brand name Glivec in most jurisdictions, but as Gleevec in the USA).

Novartis’s notice of dispute came mere days after Colombia’s health
minister had written to the company in April of 2016 with a new price
proposal, alluding to the prospect of outright “compulsory licensing” of
the drug if a steep price reduction is not agreed.

<snip>


IAReporter has learned that four days after Novartis’s response to the
Health Ministry, the Colombian Ministry of Trade received a notice of
dispute from Novartis, under the Colombia-Switzerland BIT. Neither party
has released the notice, leaving the nuances of Novartis’ threat unclear –
however we understand that the company’s notice was broadly couched so as
to capture the possibility of a declaration of public interest, as well as
actions that might flow from that (e.g. price reductions or compulsory
licensing).

<snip>

--
Andrew S. Goldman
Counsel, Policy and Legal Affairs
Knowledge Ecology International
andrew.goldman at keionline.org // www.twitter.com/ASG_KEI
tel.: +1.202.332.2670
www.keionline.org



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