University of California Study Finds that CAFTA Intellectual Property Rules Hinder Access to Medicines in Guatemala
Guatemala is a low-income country with a domestic generic drug industry. CAFTA’s intellectual property rules affect the drug market not as much through patent protections, but through data protection (or data exclusivity), which inserts an administrative barrier to generic drugs entering the market even if there is no patent in place, providing one company with a monopoly. Not only are generics denied registration and entry into the market by CAFTA’s market protections but generics already in the market are removed.
The study looked at drugs used to treat some of the most common causes for sickness and mortality in Guatemala, including cancer, pneumonia, diabetes, and cardiac disease and stroke. The intellectual property rules in CAFTA have had a significant effect on medication costs in Guatemala, making many of them prohibitively expensive. In every case included in the study, the data-protected drug was more expensive than its generic equivalent. For example, the insulin Lantus, used to treat diabetes, costs 846 percent more than its generic equivalent. The antifungal Vfend, used to treat infections, costs 810 percent more than the generic medication.
In fact, CAFTA’s rules on intellectual property provide even stronger monopoly protections than U.S. law or the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). Unfortunately, Guatemala is a prime example of the effects of CAFTA’s intellectual property rules and the Guatemalan people are paying the price, literally and figuratively.
For more information, see GTW’s information on CAFTA and access to medicines.
The University of California article, entitled “A Trade Agreement’s Impact on Access to Generic Drugs,” can be found here.