Healthcare & Life Sciences updates

Africa

Contributed by ENSafrica
Current pharmaceutical invention patent restrictions
  • Africa
  • 09 December 2020

A number of African World Trade Organisation members have supported a proposal to waive certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. It appears that this is an opportune time for many least-developed countries (LDCs) to extend the TRIPS exemptions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to address the many challenges which they face, especially regarding neglected tropical diseases.

African Union publishes COVID-19 vaccine strategy
  • Africa
  • 05 August 2020

The African Union (AU) recently published a COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The strategy was announced in a communique issued by the AU ministers of health and heads of delegation following a virtual conference on 24 and 25 June 2020. Access to medicine in Africa is a recurring concern and it may be an opportune moment to use the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a blueprint to secure future access to pharmaceuticals – including vaccines – for Africans.


Austria

Contributed by Preslmayr Attorneys at Law
Restriction of freedom in nursing homes due to risk of COVID-19 infection
  • Austria
  • 06 January 2021

The Supreme Court recently ruled that nursing homes can restrict residents' freedom by isolating them in their room. The resident in question had been isolated in his room in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the other nursing home residents. This decision shows the interaction between protecting the freedom of nursing home residents and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reimbursement for medicine not listed in Reimbursement Code?
  • Austria
  • 21 October 2020

Although Austrian social security provides for a legal entitlement to benefits in kind (ie, free administration of medicines listed in the Reimbursement Code, except for a small prescription fee), the Organisation of Austrian Social Security is reluctant to reimburse the cost of medicines not listed in the Reimbursement Code. A recent Supreme Court decision shows that this restrictive approach is supported by the Austrian courts.

Constitutional Court overrules COVID-19 restrictions
  • Austria
  • 02 September 2020

In March 2020 the legislature enacted the COVID-19 Measures Act, which authorised the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection to enact regulations prohibiting access to business premises to the extent necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Based on this provision, the ministry enacted the COVID-19 Measures Regulation; however, the Constitutional Court recently overruled Sections 1, 2, 4 and 6 of the regulation.

Relevance of expert guidelines for assessing medical malpractice
  • Austria
  • 01 July 2020

Recent case law suggests that, although medical society and other expert committee guidelines are non-binding, they may serve as evidence to specify current medical standards. However, as they cannot be considered on the same level as medical standards, the application of such guidelines to specific cases requires an expert assessment.

Leucopenia medicine and reimbursement code
  • Austria
  • 11 March 2020

A landmark Supreme Administrative Court decision concerning Onpro Kit, a medicine for treating chemotherapy-induced leucopenia, provides further clarity on the inclusion of medicines in the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions' reimbursement code. The court examined the special circumstances in which a medicine is inappropriate for use in the course of medical treatment because it is designated for use predominantly in hospital treatments.


Belgium

Contributed by ALTIUS
BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
  • Belgium
  • 20 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are on the menu for Belgium?
  • Belgium
  • 23 December 2020

Belgium is following the lead of the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency with respect to its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The European Commission, on behalf of EU member states, has already concluded six advance purchase agreements with vaccine suppliers for a potential total of almost 2 billion doses. Belgium's share presently amounts to a total of 22.4 million vaccines. Purchasing is expected to begin in early January 2021.

Can parallel importers rebrand generic medicines?
  • Belgium
  • 04 November 2020

If a branded medicine and its generic version are put on the EEA market by economically linked undertakings, is a parallel importer then allowed to rebrand and repackage the imported generic version as the branded reference medicine? This issue recently led the Brussels Court of Appeal to refer three questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In anticipation of the ECJ's ruling, this article provides the factual background and explains why a parallel importer should not be allowed to rebrand in such cases.

BCA confirms that merger control rules apply to creation of loco-regional hospital networks
  • Belgium
  • 12 August 2020

The Belgian Competition Authority's (BCA's) latest note reiterates that competition law rules concerning merger control fully apply to the creation of local hospital networks as required under the Act of 28 February 2019. Although hospitals seem largely unaware of the obligations under the merger control rules attached to such forms of cooperation, they should consider that the BCA is paying more attention to the sector and that significant penalties may be incurred for non-compliance.

Parliament adopts act increasing transparency of managed entry agreements
  • Belgium
  • 06 May 2020

Parliament recently adopted a new act to increase the transparency of managed entry agreements (MEAs) concluded between pharmaceutical companies and the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance. MEAs stipulate confidential compensation mechanisms for the government regarding the publicly listed price and reimbursement basis of the medicines concerned.


Canada

Contributed by Smart & Biggar
Innovators challenge final PMPRB Guidelines in new Federal Court application
  • Canada
  • 09 December 2020

Innovative Medicines Canada and numerous research-based pharmaceutical companies recently commenced an application for judicial review of the final Patented Medicine Prices Review Board Guidelines. The guidelines aim to operationalise amendments to the Patented Medicines Regulations scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2021.

Few significant changes made in final PMPRB guidelines
  • Canada
  • 25 November 2020

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board recently published the final version of its guidelines which operationalise the amendments to the Patented Medicines Regulations scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2021. This article provides a brief summary of the final framework for the price review process and highlights changes relative to the June 2020 draft guidelines.

Federal Court orders minister of health to issue NOC to Fresenius Kabi for biosimilar
  • Canada
  • 25 November 2020

Justice Manson of the Federal Court recently ordered the minister of health to issue a notice of compliance to Fresenius Kabi for IDACIO (adalimumab), a biosimilar of AbbVie's HUMIRA. The minister of health had completed its review of Fresenius Kabi's new drug submission for IDACIO; the only outstanding issue was whether Fresenius Kabi had addressed the patents listed on the Patent Register in respect of HUMIRA.

Health Canada issues interim order respecting drug shortages relating to COVID-19
  • Canada
  • 11 November 2020

The minister of health recently approved the Interim Order Respecting the Prevention and Alleviation of Shortages of Drugs in Relation to COVID-19, which introduces new tools to address drug shortages, or the risk of drug shortages, that may be caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article examines some of the interim order's main features.

CADTH harmonises drug reimbursement review process
  • Canada
  • 11 November 2020

The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) recently announced the launch of new Procedures for CADTH Drug Reimbursement Reviews, which harmonise procedures under the CADTH's drug reimbursement review pathways. This article outlines the procedure's main highlights.


Cyprus

General Healthcare System contributions
  • Cyprus
  • 10 April 2019

As of 1 March 2019, employees, pensioners, state officials and income earners in Cyprus must contribute 1.7% of their income to the General Health System, while self-employed individuals must contribute 2.55% of their income. Private employers must also make General Health System contributions of 1.85% on emoluments made to employees, while the state must make an additional contribution of 1.65% of the incomes of employees, self-employed individuals, pensioners and government officials.