Patent protection clause is latest stumbling block for revised NAFTA

Congressional approval for President Donald Trump's revised North American Free Trade Agreement may hinge on a small provision that governs patent protections for drugmakers, according to The New York Times.

The revised version of NAFTA, the trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, contains a clause that protects biologic drugs from cheaper alternatives. The new trade pact would give biologic drugmakers 10 years of intellectual property protection to shield other drugmakers from obtaining the data they used to win approval.

Biologic drugs are made from living organisms and are used to treat such diseases as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer. They also have steep price tags.

Congressional Democrats argue that establishing these protections under the new trade agreement could thwart  efforts to lower healthcare costs through legislative changes. Lawmakers also claim that other provisions in the trade pact could hinder the development of generic drugs.

Supporters of the trade pact provision say that basic intellectual property protections are necessary to safeguard innovation and give companies an incentive to invest in developing drugs.

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