Access to Drugs in Developing Countries
Edited by Kenneth C. Shadlen, Samira Guennif, Alenka Guzmán and N. Lalitha
Chapter 8: Pharmaceutical Patent Policy in Developing Countries: Learning from the Canadian Experience
1 Jean-Frédéric Morin and Mélanie Bourassa Forcier It is often believed that Canada is in a delicate position as regards adopting a strongly different patent policy from the United States. It is true that the Canadian economy is still greatly, although decreasingly, dependent on its southern neighbor. The Canadian government intentionally strengthened these economic and industrial ties by signing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the US in 1987, followed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992. In 2008, 78 per cent of Canadian exports were destined for the US market and 58 per cent of foreign direct investment stock in Canada was owned by American investors (Canada 2009). Few other countries, including in Latin America, are as dependent on the US economy and therefore vulnerable to US trade pressures regarding their pharmaceutical patent policy. Nevertheless, Canada did not hesitate to depart from the US model to design a unique patent policy for pharmaceutical products. The history of the Canadian pharmaceutical patent policy, although increasingly imprinted by US influences, reveals a Canadian philosophy for justice in access to health care services. One could even argue that universal access to health services is a symbol of the Canadian identity and a source of national pride, enabling Canadians to distinguish themselves from Americans. In 2004, Tommy Douglas, a politician known as Canada’s father of Medicare, was named the Greatest Canadian of all time in a nationwide contest casting over 1.2 million votes. Few other nations,...
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