NGOs call for supplementary protection certificates to be abolished

By Carmen Paun
9/11/17, 1:43 PM CET

A group of 33 civil society organizations led by Doctors Without Borders today asked the European Commission to abolish supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), which they claim lead to unaffordable medicines prices that stay in place for longer periods of time.

The group’s call comes as the Commission is reviewing a 2009 regulation governing the certificates, which are used to cover the time between obtaining patent protection for a drug and its market authorization. A meeting on the subject is taking place today in Munich, convened by the Max Planck Institute, which is conducting a study that will be used as part of the Commission’s review.

The NGOs, which include Health Action International, Doctors of the World and AIDS Action Europe, said prolonged market exclusivity granted through SPCs “has consistently delayed the availability of generic and biosimilar medicines in Europe, upsetting the balance between the commercial interests of pharmaceutical companies and the public interest of patients across Europe.”

They give examples of HIV/AIDS drugs that have been available as generics in other parts of the world for more than 10 years, but that are still unavailable in the EU because of SPCs.

The group called on the Commission to abolish SPCs to ensure access to affordable medicines. They also want the EU executive to stop promoting such rules when negotiating trade agreements with other countries and remove them from existing agreements.

In the — likely — event that SPCs are maintained, the NGOs want the mechanism to oppose them being granted to be strengthened.

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