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U.S. watching upcoming changes to Canada's drug prices

The United States is keeping Canada on its "watch list" of countries where policies and practices could pose a threat to American intellectual property rights. In its annual report on foreign perils to American rights holders, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) raised concerns about Canada's plan to recalibrate how it calculates the price of prescription drugs.

Canada on 'watch list' of nations that pose potential threats to U.S. intellectual property rights

A pharmacist counts prescription drugs at the CentreTown Pharmacy in Ottawa in June 2019. The federal Liberal government announced last summer that the arm's-length Patented Medicine Prices Review Board would be changing the way it determines how much Canadians should pay for prescription medications. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The United States is keeping Canada on its "watch list" of countries where policies and practices could pose a threat to American intellectual property rights.

In its annual report on foreign perils to American rights holders, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) raised concerns about Canada's plan to recalibrate how it calculates the price of prescription drugs.

The report stops short, however, of demands from the U.S. pharmaceutical industry that Canada be elevated to the USTR's list of "priority" trouble spots.

The federal Liberal government announced last summer that the arm's-length Patented Medicine Prices Review Board would stop using drug prices in the U.S. and Switzerland — among the highest in the world — to help it determine what Canadian patients should pay.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a drug industry lobby group, says Canada's plan would be a drag on efforts to develop new treatments and would end up devaluing American-made patented medications.

The USTR report out this week does acknowledge coming intellectual property reforms in the new North American trade deal, but calls on Canada to "contribute fairly" to research and development for innovative medicines.

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