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China to exempt cancer drugs from import taxes

Under a new policy that took effect on 1 May 2018, China will exempt as many as 28 medicines, including all cancer drugs, made overseas from import duties.

EMA collaboration on oversight of API makers

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on 12 April 2018 that it had published the International API inspection programme report for 2011−2016.

Generics companies defend against illegal ‘pay-for-delay’ charges

In March 2018, pharmaceutical companies in the US and Europe have had to defend themselves against antitrust charges. Illegal ‘pay-for-delay’ deals enable companies to profit by delaying the release of generic drug products [1]. In recent months, generics manufacturers, Impax Laboratories Inc in the US and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (Teva) in Europe, have both been accused of entering into such deals with originator companies. In addition, US companies, Endo, Watson, Teikoku are to pay over US$270 million to settle pay-for-delay lawsuits over Endo’s Lidoderm (lidocaine) pain patch.

NGO urges HIV drug patent application to be denied in Argentina

In March 2018, Argentine NGO, the Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo (FGEP), requested that the country’s National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) deny Gilead Sciences Inc’s patent request for an antiretroviral drug.  

US government tries to address the increasing cost of drugs

A report released by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), an executive office of the President of the US, in February 2018 outlines a number of policy changes aimed at lowering drug prices, but some experts are sceptical that the actions will accomplish that goal.

Canada’s generics industry to cut prices by up to 40%

The pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) announced on 29 January 2018 that together with participating federal, provincial and territorial public drug plans, and the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), they are launching a new five-year generics initiative. As a part of this, Canada’s generic drugs industry has agreed to reduce prices of generics in exchange for the removal of open tenders for participating drug plans.

Europe calls for more drugs repurposing

The European Commission (EC) published a paper for the 8th Meeting of the STAMP Expert Group on 8 December 2017 regarding case studies on repurpose medicines which outlined some of the issues that are preventing development of generics for use in new indications [1]. This paper came in response to the meeting discussions of the EC’s Commission Expert Group on Safe and Timely Access to Medicines for Patients (STAMP) that convened on 27 June 2017 and has since started work on developing ways to encourage the repurposing of generics.

FDA denies Novo Nordisk petition to block generic liraglutide

On 5 January 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) denied Novo Nordisk’s October 2017 citizen petition [1] that sought to block generic versions of its insulin Victoza (liraglutide) and two other liraglutide containing products. In 2016, Victoza (liraglutide) brought the company US$3.2 billion in sales.

France fines J&J 25 million Euro for blocking generics

A fine of Euros 25 million was imposed on Janssen-Cilag and its parent company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) by the French Competition Authority on 20 December 2017. This occurred in response to a ruling that the company deliberately slowed market access to generic copies of its painkiller Durogesic (fentanyl) and sought to restrict the development of competing products. 

Generics applications under review by EMA – January 2018

Generic medicines in Europe can be approved either centrally via the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or nationally via the local regulatory body [1]. Approval by EMA takes place by using a centralized procedure. This leads to approval of the product in all 28 European Union (EU) Member States and in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. At a country level, if approval in a single EU Member State only is required, this can take place using the national procedure. However, as soon as a company seeks approval in two or more Member States, a decentralized procedure or mutual recognition procedure must be used [2].