Ha'aretz: The Health Ministry Is Violating The Priority Rights Of Pharmaceutical Companies

Author:Mr Yafit Avital
Profession:Reinhold Cohn & Partners
The following is an article expressing the necessity in enacting Data Exclusivity Provisions in Israel. The Article is an interview with Adv. David Gilat and Adv. Eran Bareket published in Ha'aretz daily newspaper on December 21, 2003.

Attorneys David Gilat and Eran Bareket, who specialize in intellectual property, maintain that when, in the process of approving generic drugs, the Health Ministry uses product files submitted by manufacturers of proprietary medicinal products it violates the law as well as an international treaty that Israel has signed.

The generic drug industry has already spawned some of the most successful companies in Israel's business arena. Teva, whose market cap is $16 billion and is a leader of the global generic industry, is without doubt the most prominent example, but it is not the only one. Taro and Agis are growing, profitable companies that are considered leaders in their specific fields.

A generic drug is similar, although not necessarily identical, to the original drug, but produces the same biological effect as the original - at a much cheaper price. In a country where health costs continually rise and where the state's contribution constantly declines, the idea that a company should be allowed to produce generic drugs makes perfect sense. It is therefore hardly surprising that the concept of generic drugs is embraced by the public and by policymakers in Israel, and that no one questions this principle. Ostensibly, it is in everyone's best interest. Well, almost everybody's.

David Gilat, an attorney and patent attorney, disagrees. Gilat is a partner in Gilat, Bareket & Co., a law firm that specializes in intellectual property and represents proprietary drug manufacturers. In this field, their firm works hand in hand with Reinhold Cohn & Partners, one of the leading firms in Israel in the field of intellectual property.

Gilat thinks that the state has gone too far in its eagerness to promote the marketing of generic drugs, and even argues that the Ministry of Health is guilty of violating the proprietary rights of companies that produce brand-name drugs.

Trade secrets

The cost of developing a new drug, Gilat explains, has grown dramatically over the last few years, and nowadays reaches several hundreds of millions of dollars and even a billion dollars per drug. One of the reasons for that are technological improvements, which make it possible to reach a higher level of accuracy in toxicity and purity measurements, and concurrently...

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