The Chilean press reports that Senators Fulvio Rossi and Francisco Chahuán have expressed their opposition to legislation in the Congress that would prohibit health regulators from granting marketing approval to medicines which are under patent without the acquiescence of the patent holder.  This “linkage” between patents and health regulators would implement an obligation of the requirements of the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement, but the Senators warn it would block access to generic medicines, and could raise prices on drugs an average of 40%. 

Last year, USTR included Chile on the Priority Watch List in the Special 301 Report, noting “outstanding issues” related to FTA implementation.  The report said that USTR “encourages Chile to implement its commitment to provide an effective system to address patent issues expeditiously in connection with applications to market pharmaceutical products.” In February 2012, PhRMA’s comments to USTR asked for the placement of Chile on this year’s Priority Watch List, and earlier this month USTR brought up the issue again in the NTE Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, in which it brought up the issue again.