[Ip-health] Mexico: Article on the US-Mexico preliminary agreement in principle and access to medicines

Dolores Cullen dcullen at mfjint.com
Wed Aug 29 14:44:42 PDT 2018

Dear all,
FYI, another article was published today in Mexico raising concerns about
the potential implications of the agreement reached between Mexico and the
US on access to medicines. The article (in Spanish) may be accessed at:

Below is a basic translation:

El Economista, August 29, 2018
A NAFTA That Puts Obstacles on the Road
Maribel Coronel

If what was renegotiated with the United States is already unmovable, it
will have serious implications for Mexico in the health area. And instead of
celebrating, for Mexican patients it is rather a cause for regrettable
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who must be aware of this given
that he had his representative, Jesus Seade, in the negotiations, has
already laid the first stone on the road to fulfilling the promised full
supply of medicines.
There is no healthcare budget that is ever enough, but the prices of
biological therapies that may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars
(millions of pesos) per person, per year, for example for cancer, they are
among the most expensive in the market costing up to hundreds of thousands
of dollars (and millions of pesos) per person per year - the challenge turns
gigantic. The point is that now they will be allowed to stay at such high
cost for much longer, and this is because NAFTA is imposing barriers to
entry to biocomparable drugs which, when entering into competition, allow
prices to be reduced.

The ones that must be celebrating are the US pharmaceutical companies that
develop and manufacture biotechnological medicines. Among the main ones are
Gilead Sciences, Amgen, Abbvie, Genentech, without ruling out the
traditional bigpharma of the United States such as Pfizer, Merck, J & J, Eli
Lilly. With a period of 10-years data protection their products will now
have more opportunity to maintain excessively high prices in Mexico.
In this space last week we identified some of the specific intellectual
property provisions that should be closely monitored by the incoming
government if AMLO wanted to be faithful to the promises made to the Mexican
people regarding public health and access to medicines.

However, this was obviously not a priority issue. The new agreement will
impose additional obligations to existing ones. The original NAFTA did not
require the parties to grant exclusivity for data for biotech products. In
fact, according to Fabiana Jorge, a consultant specialized in intellectual
property based in Washington DC, no US trade agreement has specific/explicit
provisions on biologics; even the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
contemplated an exclusivity of 5 or 8 years (a provision that did not
materialize because the US withdrew from the agreement), never 10 years as
Mexico seems to have accepted in the renegotiation of NAFTA.
That additional exclusivity, the expert tells us, will represent an
additional monopoly to the 20 years granted by pharmaceutical patents that
already cover biologics. Many biological products are protected by a large
number of patents, in some cases by hundreds of them.

Everyone knows that monopolies carry very high prices since the market is
captive. Moreover, a report on biologic drugs of the US Federal Trade
Commission concluded that this type of medication does not need to have test
data protection. It is evident that there was a strong lobbying effort from
the innovation pharmaceutical industry.
Why would AMLO accept this type of protection? In exchange of what did he
give his approval to a provision that is so negative for the Mexican people,
especially for those who have less?

The US Trade Representative Office indicated that other new protections for
intellectual property for medicines would also be granted. No details have
been given yet, but this would further aggravate the negative impact of this
agreement for patients.
We will find out later in more detail what other provisions the Mexican
government has agreed to regarding medicines.

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