The Ministry of Health recently provided Parliament with a draft amendment to the Health Telematics Act for public consultation. The proposal aims to remedy a number of challenges relating to Austria's existing immunisation system through the introduction of electronic immunisation cards and a central register of vaccinations.
The Austrian professional rules for dentists are strict and restrictive and permit advertising only within tight limits. Recent case law suggests that the Chamber of Dentists is highly active in enforcing both the Directive on Advertising and the Dental Act. Under the directive, print media ads must not exceed quarter of a page and dentists must not use unobjective advertising (eg, ads which promise patients non-dental advantages or services).
Patients who are beyond treatment under the standards of conventional medicine often seek help from alternative medical treatments; however, these methods pose not only medical risks for patients, but also legal risks for doctors. A recent Supreme Administrative Court decision appears to favour a liberal approach to new therapies and compassionate use and enhances the possibilities for developing new therapies and alternative medicines in future.
When a generic is added to the Reimbursement Code, the product manufacturer or authorised distributor must reduce its price in order for the product to remain therein. If the Main Association of Social Security Institutions and the product manufacturer or authorised distributor cannot agree on a price, the product will be removed from the Reimbursement Code. A recent Supreme Court decision provides important considerations for maintaining original medicinal products in the Reimbursement Code.
While there are signs of greater liberalisation with respect to hemp use internationally, the Austrian government has resisted this trend. In October 2018 the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection published a decree outlining its legal opinion on product regulations which prohibit CBD use in food and cosmetics. However, rather than providing legal certainty, the decree merely reflects headlines relating to the government's narcotics programme.
The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products recently issued a circular letter reminding the different actors in the Belgian healthcare sector that incentives in the course of public procurement procedures should be considered carefully. Further, the circular letter underlined the risk of contravening the ban on receiving gifts, monetary advantages or benefits and public procurement rules.
A legislative package aimed at fighting falsified medicines will enter into force in the European Union in early 2019. This EU legal framework was transposed into Belgian law through the Medicines Act and the Royal Decree concerning Medicines for Human and Veterinary Use. As a result, pharmaceutical companies will be required to affix a so-called 'anti-tampering device' on all prescription medicinal products to allow verification of whether the packaging has been tampered with.
A pharmaceutical company requested a preliminary injunction against a generic manufacturer based on one of its invalidated supplementary protection certificates. An appeal court granted the injunction, but the generic manufacturer appealed to the Supreme Court. The court's decision is notable for its distinction between the authority and the force of res judicata, and the implications of this distinction for rights holders.
The government has implemented a strict regulatory framework for genetically modified organism field trials. But what happens when one of the players fails to respect the rules? Does it affect the valid work that has already been done by others? These questions recently arose before the Ghent Court of First Instance in the context of expedited civil proceedings initiated by Greenpeace against the Belgian state.
The Brussels Court of Appeal recently ruled that a parallel importer did not properly notify a pharmaceutical trademark holder when it provided a two-dimensional mock-up of the outer packaging, rather than an actual sample, of the repackaged pharmaceutical as it would be presented on sale. The decision provided much-needed clarity, as the first instance court had issued contradicting decisions on the matter.
Since 2016 Minas Gerais has been establishing transparency laws to create a system whereby consumers and society at large will be able to access information regarding incentives and payments between healthcare professionals and the health industry. Under the state laws, the health industry must provide information on the relationships that they maintain with healthcare professionals which may represent a potential conflict of interest.
The importance of clinical research for developing new treatments and discovering cures for diseases is indisputable. However, the degree to which patients benefit from participating in clinical trials and whether they should have post-trial access to experimental treatments are highly disputed, especially in Brazil, where free universal healthcare is a constitutional right. The House of Representatives is discussing clinical research and post-trial access as part of a new legislative bill.
One of the most influential moves in the healthcare sector is the recent development of point-of-care solutions. The main goal is to allow patients to get on-demand healthcare outside the hospital, mainly through medical devices and apps. Such technologies are likely to have a significant positive effect in the Brazilian public health system by making diagnostic testing accessible in areas where healthcare is hard to access.
The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board recently released the Meds Entry Watch 2018, which analyses information about medicines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency or Health Canada in 2017 and 2018. One of the key findings is the continued upward trend in the entry of high-cost products (eg, orphan drugs and oncology products).
The Canadian Institute for Health Information recently published statistics on drug spending, finding that in 2018 approximately 40% of drug spending was spent on 2% of beneficiaries. Of this 2%, three out of five individuals used a drug therapy that cost C$10,000 or more per year (eg, antivirals or biologics for rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease).
There have been a number of key developments in Canadian life sciences IP and regulatory law over the past 12 months, including significant amendments to the Patented Medicines Regulations, a number of biosimilars developments relating to approvals, pending submissions and naming and the second anniversaries of the certificate of supplementary protection regime and the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations.
The United States, Mexico and Canada recently signed amendments to the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The original USMCA was signed on 30 November 2018. The recent amendments have removed a provision, such that Canada can maintain its current data protection laws which provide an eight-year data protection term, with a possible six-month paediatric extension, for all pharmaceutical products, including biologics.
In 2018 the Federal Court granted Teva's claim for compensation under Section 8 of the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations relating to Teva's bortezomib product. According to Justice Locke, Teva would not have infringed Patents 2,203,936 and 2,435,146 because their relevant claims were invalid for obviousness. The Federal Court of Appeal has now upheld the finding of obviousness, dismissing Millennium Pharmaceuticals' and Janssen's appeal.
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.