[Ip-health] STAT + - Chilean minister pushes back against pharma move to pressure its pricing policies

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Apr 23 04:35:55 PDT 2019


Chilean minister pushes back against pharma move to pressure its pricing
APRIL 18, 2019

A war of words is simmering between the Chilean government and the
pharmaceutical industry over steps the South American country is
considering to control rising drug costs.

In recent remarks, Jose Ramon Valente Vias, the minister of Economy,
Development, and Tourism, pushed back against the latest effort by the
PhRMA industry trade group to convince the U.S. Trade Representative to
keep Chile on its annual list of countries that fail to protect and enforce
patent rights. The U.S. Trade Rep is due to release its latest so-called
U.S. Priority Watch list shortly.

The list, however, “does not account for Chile’s solid ‘institutionality,’
in terms of intellectual property,” Vias told La Tercera, a Chilean
website. And he maintained that the Chilean government continues to work
with the country’s commercial partners “in obtaining balanced results in
the preparation and implementation of intellectual property standards.”

His statement, which was made on the eve of a visit to Washington, follows
comments in which PhRMA urged the U.S. Trade Rep to maintain a hard line
against Chile, largely over the issue of compulsory licensing. This marked
the 12th consecutive year, in fact, that the industry took this position
concerning Chile.


In comments filed with the U.S. Trade Rep, the industry trade group cited
moves by Chilean lawmakers in late 2017 and early 2018 to seek compulsory
licenses for hepatitis C medicines, an effort that was supported by the
Chilean health minister. The notion survived a change in government, as the
newest health minister last August also backed the idea.

“PhRMA members are very concerned about recent actions by the National
Congress that are pressuring Chile’s new government to issue compulsory
licenses for certain innovative medicines. These developments add to
longstanding intellectual property problems,” the trade group wrote, while
also pointing to a “failure” to fully implement patent enforcement in a
trade agreement with the U.S.

Meanwhile, as we reported last month, the Chilean legislature advanced
three measures — regulating prices, easing the mechanism for issuing a
compulsory license, and creating a government web site to monitor pricing —
that have alarmed the pharmaceutical industry.

One of the initiatives in particular has drug makers concerned. The
proposed law, which last month passed the Health Commission, will allow the
government to determine the price of a patented medicine based on whether
the buyers have “economic accessibility.” In other words, if the drug is
priced out of reach, the health ministry will have the right to cap its

Apart from economic accessibility, another litmus test that could be used
for regulating prices is for preventing “abusive exploitation of a
dominant” market position. Drug makers fear that if the health ministry has
limited resources, it is theoretically possible that any medicine might
face price caps. The Chilean government is the main purchaser of medicines,
by the way.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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