1 February 2013Americas

Mexican Senate proposes bill to reduce life term of medicine patents

The Mexican Senate has published a bill which, if adopted, will reduce the life term of medicine patents in Mexico by up to one year.

The bill was introduced last week by Senator Martha Palafox Gutierrez and proposes amending Article 23 of Mexico’s Industrial Property Law to include a “special” life term for patents composed of a substance or substances listed under sections I and III of article 221 of Mexico’s Health Law. This includes drugs, and active ingredients and raw materials related to drugs.

The life term proposed in the bill is 20 years starting from the date the first patent application for the substance or product is filed abroad but under the current law, this 20-year term can begin from the date of filing in Mexico.

According to the bill, the proposed changes are intended to “combat social inequality” that has “polarized society” by providing Mexican families with better access to medicine and healthcare.

But Jorge Mier y Concha, a partner at Arochi Marroquin & Lindner in Mexico City, said the proposals are at odds with the Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

“Pharmaceutical companies could work around this by filing applications in Mexico at the same time as filing in other jurisdictions.”

“It’s very unlikely it will succeed but if it does, this would be a big problem for the medical industry. You would have a specific term for Mexico that is different for the life terms in other countries. This contradicts Paris Convention, which states that all jurisdictions should be treated equally,” he said.

Rosa Nuria Becerril, a partner at Becerril, Coca & Becerril, S.C. agreed.

“The arguments passed in the bill neither clearly nor roundly justify the reduction of the term. The medical sector would not be the only one affected by this bill should it pass - there would be a strong decrease in private investment in Mexico from the pharma sector, which would cause loss of employment, and it would surely cause an incredibly strong increase in the cost of pharmaceuticals," she said.

Pharmaceutical companies could work around this by filing applications in Mexico at the same time as filing in other jurisdictions, but Mier y Concha says this would be expensive and impractical. “It would lead to a lot of uncertainty, as there is no guarantee the patent will be allowed.”

Mier y Concha added that the Mexican Association of IP Practitioners is discussing the bill and is likely to file comments in opposition to the proposals “very soon.”

The bill is being reviewed by the Development Commission of Trade and Industrial Health and the Commission of the Senate and is up for discussion in around two weeks’ time.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at