Public pharmacies are heavily regulated in Austria. The opening of new (or the relocation of existing) pharmacies is subject to approval by the district authority. Approval will be granted only if there exists a viable need for the new public pharmacy. In a recent case, two courts ignored a 2016 amendment to Section 10 of the Pharmacies Act, which allowed a deviation from the strict 5,500 person limit set out therein.
After 14 months of negotiations between the Federation of Austrian Social Security Institutions and the pharmaceutical industry, and lengthy discussions within the government coalition, Parliament recently adopted a new price cap for expensive medicinal products and a new price regime for generics and biosimilars. The government, social security institutions and the legislature hope that these amendments will create further savings in relation to expenses for medicinal products.
The Vienna Higher Regional Court recently provided valuable conclusions about the interpretation of Article 3(a) of the Supplementary Protection Certificate Regulation – specifically, whether a functional identification of an active ingredient in a basic patent is sufficient to assess whether a product can be considered as "protected by a basic patent in force".
The Supreme Court recently ruled on the line between dietetic foods and medicinal products by presentation. The defendant was ultimately ordered to cease and desist from distributing its product OMNi-BiOTiC MIGRAene as a medicinal product without marketing authorisation and using the product's name. This decision is important as it keeps a close watch on the thin line between dietetic foods and medicinal products.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in a case involving a request for an ophthalmologist to cease and desist from providing recommendations for opticians to his clients. According to the court, the prohibition against advertising can be interpreted as allowing physicians to recommend a specific service provider to patients on request. Recommendations will be considered illegal only where they are based on inappropriate motives (eg, to gain a financial advantage).
The continuity of traditional healthcare models seems unlikely with the breakthrough of disruptive technologies. Historically, the healthcare sector has been slow to implement technological tools that have quickly transformed other areas of people's daily lives. However, a promising solution to address the interoperability, integrity and security challenges presented in the healthcare sector seems to be blockchain technology.
Advances in technology and the so-called 'fourth industrial revolution' continue to have an effect on society. For instance, telemedicine has rapidly developed and transformed the services provided by healthcare providers worldwide. Due to the expansion of telemedicine in Brazil, the Federal Council of Medicine intends to review and update Resolution 1643, which will hopefully attract new players to the market.
Brazil's complex and inefficient tax system is known worldwide. In addition to a heavy tax burden, the tax compliance costs that companies must bear in order to do business in the country are particularly high. This is also the case for the healthcare sector. However, there are specific cases of tax exemption, 0% tax rates and other exceptions which aim to reduce the final price of pharmaceutical products, devices and equipment. Several of these rules add to the complexity of Brazil's puzzling tax system.
Brazilian citizens will soon be able to test themselves for the HIV virus in their blood. The National Health Surveillance Agency recently approved the registration of the first HIV self-testing kit in the country, following the issuance of Resolution 52/2015. Brazil has joined other countries which have already approved the registration of an HIV self-testing kit to help to fight against undiagnosed people living with HIV.
The National Supplementary Health Agency recently issued a new normative instruction regulating the free flow of securities and allowing health insurers to request an annual prior authorisation in order to negotiate and use their assets as financial guarantees to obtain additional revenue. This measure is vital for the health insurance sector, as the use of financial guarantees for assets may play an important role in companies' fight against the existing political and economic situation in Brazil.
The recent amendments to the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations introduced a new scheme for pharmaceutical patent linkage litigation in Canada regarding generic challenges. The scheme is now much closer to the US Hatch-Waxman scheme, but with a number of key differences.
The Federal Court recently found that the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board's assessment that a patent pertained to Galderma Canada's Differin was unreasonable, as it had failed to consider the entire patent. As a result, the court quashed the board's decision requiring Galderma to file pricing information for Differin.
The Federal Court recently rejected Apotex's application for judicial review regarding Health Canada's review of its omeprazole magnesium tablet regulatory submission. Apotex had applied for reconsideration, which was cancelled due to disagreement on an eligible question to pose to the reconsideration panel. Apotex had focused the question solely on safety and efficacy, while the minister of health had required that the question consider bioequivalence.
The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board recently announced the release of a hearing panel's decision regarding the pricing of a breakthrough drug and the publication of a report which compares lists of drugs covered by the public drug plans to determine the extent of overlap in drug coverage. Further, in response to an unopposed request filed by the board to do so, a hearing panel discontinued an excessive pricing proceeding relating to Apotex's Apo-Salvent CFC Free.
The Ontario legislature recently introduced Bill 160, which – if passed – will enact the Health Sector Payment Transparency Act 2017. The act will require the disclosure of financial relationships between healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturers and the reporting of various information. More details, such as the manner and frequency of reporting, will be prescribed by regulation.
The State Council recently promulgated amendments to the Regulation on the Supervision and Administration of Medical Devices 2014, which took effect immediately. The amendments clarify issues relating to device distributors' liabilities when selling non-conforming products, the use of large medical equipment and the revocation of clinical study site certification.
The China Food and Drug Administration recently issued four new draft policies for public comment, proposing further reforms to the existing drug and medical device regulatory regime. The draft policies aim to expedite the review and approval of new drug and medical device applications, deregulate the conduct of clinical trials to encourage innovation, enhance post-market supervision throughout a product's lifecycle and protect innovators' rights.
The China Food and Drug Administration recently issued the Provisions for Medical Device Recall. While the new recall rules follow the basic regulatory framework for recalling devices provided in the existing rules, they also introduce some significant changes. The new rules clarify the scope of their application and the entity responsible for recalls, expand the definition of a 'defective product' and increase the penalties for manufacturers that refuse to implement mandatory recalls.
China's pharmaceutical industry is set to undergo further change as part of the healthcare reform initiatives recently announced by the State Council in its Circular on Several Opinions Concerning Further Reforms of the Policies Governing Drug Production, Circulation and Usage. The circular reinforces the government's determination to expedite the approval process for new drugs and calls for quality consistency tests for generics.
The China Food and Drug Administration recently proposed the most comprehensive revisions of the pharmaceutical good clinical practices (GCPs) in 13 years. The revisions have rewritten the articles of the existing pharmaceutical GCPs and provide general principles for conducting clinical studies in China; guidance on the roles and responsibilities of ethics committees, investigators and sponsors; and requirements for protocol and investigator brochures.
The Maritime and Commercial High Court recently awarded Teva Denmark A/S €13.45 million in damages and €594,000 in legal costs in a patent case. This is the largest amount of damages ever awarded in a Danish patent case and will therefore be subject to thorough review when constructing arguments on damages in future cases.
The Maritime and Commercial High Court recently referred to the European Court of Justice the question of whether a trademark holder can lawfully object to the continued marketing of a parallel imported, repackaged pharmaceutical product on which its trademark has been reaffixed if the trademark holder has marketed the product in the same volume and packet size in other European Economic Area countries.
The Maritime and Commercial High Court recently invalidated AstraZeneca's Danish quetiapine sustained release patent in litigation against Teva Denmark A/S and Accord Healthcare Ltd. Before this judgment, the validity of AstraZeneca's patent had been successfully challenged in several European countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
The Supreme Court recently examined a case regarding whether the Specific Mechanism applies to the extension of a supplementary protection certificate (SPC) under the Paediatric Extension Regulation. The court confirmed the enforceability of the Specific Mechanism against the parallel import of pharmaceuticals from new EU member states, even if the extended SPC is based on the Paediatric Extension Regulation.
The question of whether courts should consider foreign invalidity judgments regarding the same European patent is a common theme in patent proceedings. According to a recent decision in a case concerning a request for a preliminary injunction against the sale of a generic version of pharmaceutical Seroquel Prolong on the Danish market, little importance is attached to foreign invalidity judgments.