New Canadian policies recently stripped drugmaker Eli Lilly of rights to two popular new drugs, and the company has decided to bring this dispute to the U.S. Lobbyists are working in Canada, and have begun efforts in the U.S. as well. Lobbyists are asking the U.S. to add Canada to the Priority Watch list of countries that don't do enough to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. Canada was removed from this list in 2013. Eli Lilly's lawyers are also asking arbitrators to award it half a billion dollars in damages if Canada's policies don't change.
"We've been unsuccessful in bringing about change by any other means," Eli Lilly Chief Executive John Lechleiter told The Wall Street Journal. "It's an issue right at our back door. And unfortunately, we're afraid it can lead to other countries attempting to undermine intellectual property."
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade group also asked the U.S. Trade Representative to elevate Canada to the Priority Watch list. Lilly argues Canada is violating its obligations under NAFTA and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Agreement and the Patent Cooperation Treaty by allowing generic rivals to challenge patents without sufficient evidence, and the trade group agrees.