Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss the motion introduced by my hon. colleague. Motion 167 allows us to discuss the possibility of repealing Bill C-91 which was passed during the 34th parliament.
I believe that in all fairness to both the generic and to the brand name manufacturers we should hold off on this debate until such time is allowed to determine whether Bill C-91 has had a positive or a negative impact on research and development spending in Canada, employment and health care costs.
In fact, it is already explicitly stated in sections 14(1) and 14(2) of Bill C-91 that a review of this bill will be done in 1997. We should allow the Patent Medicine Price Review Board and the drug manufacturers time to adjust to this new legislation. However, I would like to make a few comments on the motion.
First, I think that it would be useful to examine why we need patent protection in the pharmaceutical industry. Patent protection is crucial to this innovative sector. These companies require a certain amount of market exclusiveness guaranteed to them in the form of patents in order to recoup their research and development expenditures and finance the development of new products.
I believe like other inventions pharmaceutical products are entitled to patent protection. Unlike other products, however, the pharmaceutical industry must undergo a strict regimen of tests and evaluations to determine a product's safety and efficiency before it can be sold commercially. This testing process is rigorous and time consuming, involving animal and clinical trials.
Essentially Bill C-91 allows patent extensions to approximately three or four years. This extension still does not bring us in line with the rest of the world. In fact, the European Community averages 15 years, the U.S. 14, while Canada is at 10. It is little wonder that Canada has also one of the lowest research and development spending levels compared with the rest of the developed world.
Since 1987 when Bill C-22, the previous amendment to the Patent Act, was introduced R and D in Canada also increased. It was through Bill C-22 that multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers agreed to spend 10 per cent of Canadian sales in R and D in Canada. As a result R and D in Canada has increased approximately 250 per cent between 1988 and 1992. However, as mentioned earlier, it is too soon to determine just what impact Bill C-91 will have on the R and D spending in Canada in the long run.
Yet I do know that since the passage of Bill C-91 the pharmaceutical industry has spent over $600 million in research and development in Canada. This is a large capital output which has been a benefit to all regions of Canada.
Other key issues that must be considered are the mandate and powers of the Patented Medicine Price Review Board. This body was created under amendment to the Patent Act enacted in Bill C-22. The board was also amended in Bill C-91 during the last Parliament. The board is a quasi-judicial body which has the power to issue corrective orders when at the outcome of a hearing it is determined that the price of a patented drug sold in Canada was excessive. The board's jurisdiction extends to all patented medicines sold in Canada, whether they be prescription or non-prescription.
The mandate of the board is threefold: first, to ensure that the factory gate prices of patent medicines charged by the drug companies are not excessive; second, to report annually on the activities and pricing trends in the pharmaceutical industry; and, third, to report annually on research and development expenditures by the patented medicine industry.
The board's pricing guidelines ensure that no medicines exceed the international range regardless of the category in which the drug falls. These guidelines also ensure that price increases do not surge above the estimated consumer price index.
Since the creation of the board the prices of patent medicines in Canada have increased on average less than the consumer price index per year. Prior to the establishment of the board prices of the patent medicines rose on the average twice that of the consumer price index.
The principal amendments to the Patent Act brought about by Bill C-91 include new remedies for firms that charge excessive prices. These remedies include ordering price reductions, ordering a monetary payment in the amount of the excess revenues, and the extension of the patent life of patent medicines by approximately three years.
With the adoption of Bill C-22 the pharmaceutical industries in Canada increase both their patent protection life and the amount of employees hired. In fact employment increased by almost 15 per cent from 1987 to 1991. Again I believe we should have had a longer time period in order to assess the impact Bill C-91 will have on the employment rate in the pharmaceutical industry.
Another key area that must be examined is whether or not the extension of the patent life to 20 years has increased health care costs in Canada. Again the jury is still out. There has not been sufficient time to do a realistic study of the prices of medicines in Canada that relate directly to the patent life. Bill C-91 allows the board to be an effective control and watchdog that has some real teeth to it, which ensures that drug prices do not become an albatross to the health care system.
According to the executive director of the Newfoundland Hospital and Nursing Home Association, the boards have brought the pricing back down and companies have made large settlements. The Drug Prices Review Board seems to have done some very positive things which have brought companies into line.
As mentioned earlier the board has a new mandate which is ensuring that those manufacturers that wish to break the pricing standards will be financially accountable.
If we look at the total costs of health care the pharmaceutical industry's portion of these costs is approximately 2 per cent of health care expenditure in Canada. Therefore I am not overly convinced that allowing these companies an extension in patent longevity is the driving force behind our increasing health care costs.
A comparison between the generic industry in Canada and the United States illustrates a few interesting points. There are two Canadian companies that control 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the generic market in Canada and their prices average 60 per cent to 80 per cent of the brand name product. In the U.S. there are 200 to 300 companies that compete in the marketplace and the prices of the generic manufacturing there average 25 per cent to 35 per cent of the brand name product.
I must state we are premature in discussing the pros and cons of Bill C-91 because it has not been enacted long enough to make a well informed, unbiased decision. I would think we would be better suited to discuss this issue in the future, allowing both generic and brand name manufacturers to have sufficient time to make changes and work within the new bill.