Patents, Public Health, and International Law: The Eli Lilly NAFTA Chapter 11 Case

January 16, 2014

In recent years, controversy has arisen over perceived conflicts between intellectual property protection and public health, and also over the role of international investment rules that allow corporations to sue governments before international tribunals. A new case combines both issues. Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has filed a claim before a NAFTA tribunal, alleging that Canadian court decisions in response to challenges from the Canadian generic drug industry have unfairly invalidated some of the company’s Canadian patents. Eli Lilly has asked for CDN$500 million as compensation for the damages it has suffered. This forum assembles experts with different perspectives on the case to sort through the various intellectual property, public health, and international law issues involved: Is the “promise utility” doctrine relied on by the Canadian courts credible? Is public health undermined or helped by this shift, which will favor the generic drug industry? Is it appropriate for international tribunals to play a role here? Please join us for a spirited discussion.

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