Why patients may face longer waits for generics under North American trade proposal

Patients and health systems in Mexico and Canada may be forced to wait years longer for lower-cost, generic versions of brand-name medications as a result of the proposed North American trade agreement, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Under the proposal, which seeks to update the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, drugmakers in Mexico and Canada will get 10 years of patent exclusivity for biologics, and drugmakers in the U.S. will get 12 years. This period of exclusivity gives brand name drugs a monopoly in the market before rivals can make copycat versions.

The data protection period for biologics in Canada is currently eight years, and in Mexico it is five years. The exclusivity period in the U.S. is 12 years, and it will not change under the proposal.

Generic drugmakers strictly oppose extending this exclusive patent period in Mexico and Canada, arguing it will extend monopoly protections and decrease patient access to affordable alternatives

On the other hand, brand name drugmakers support the longer data protection periods, saying it allows them to generate more sales to offset development costs before facing generic competition.

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