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Mexican Senator proposes limiting pharma patent terms

Senator Martha Palafox Gutierrez of Mexico has introduced a bill that would shorten the life of a pharmaceutical patent by about one year

The goal of the proposed legislation is to “combat social inequality” with respect to access to medicines, which “has polarized society between those who have everything and the majority who suffer segregation and injustice”, said the bill’s introduction.

But Alejandro Luna of Olivares & Cia said that the bill is “clearly unconstitutional” and would violate several international treaties. He added that the chances of it passing through Congress are slim. SEN. MARTHA PALAFOX GUTIÉRREZ

According to new regulations, all legislation proposed in Mexico must be studied and debated before being approved or rejected. Gutierrez’s bill is scheduled for discussion in about two weeks.

Luna said he is not sure that Gutierrez and her supporters are aware the bill would only shorten the life of drug patents by about one year.

Her proposal would make a pharmaceutical patent’s 20-year term start from the filing date of the first international application, rather than the date of filing in Mexico. Both the Paris Convention and Patent Cooperation Treaty allow applicants to claim priority to the earliest filing date of a patent, as long as they file in a member country within 12 months.

Gutierrez’s proposal would deny patent applicants who first file in Mexico and then file abroad the Mexican priority date.

A decision whether to approve or reject the bill should be made by the end of this Congressional session in July. While Luna said the bill is unlikely to go far, his firm and several IP associations plan to provide their input to Congress.

"The chances it will be passed are low, but we have to be careful as there is a new political party in power and we can't be sure," said Luna.

Alissa Rozen helped with translation for this story.

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