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Off-brand drugs get thumbs up

Ministers in the Council of the EU have approved measures that will allow pharmaceutical companies to manufacture and sell drugs similar to those of rival companies under certain circumstances.

In a statement on 14 May, the Council said the intellectual property exception would help EU manufacturers compete with non-EU companies in the market for generic drugs. These are often sold cheaper than branded products—an important competitiveness factor in developing countries, where patients often need to pay for the whole cost of treatment.

The exception applies only to drugs made for export to places outside the EU where there was never a patent on the original drug or the patent has expired. In their statement, the Council said the new rule would permit over €1 billion in extra sales over the next decade.

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