Bayer exec says he hopes EU takes time to improve drug rules reform

By Ludwig Burger and Patricia Weiss

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The head of Bayer’s pharmaceuticals unit said he hopes a recent European Union decision to postpone rule changes for the pharmaceutical industry means that a cut in intellectual drug property protection will be reconsidered.

“I hope that this delay means that there is an opportunity that this draft… is not the final version,” the head of Bayer’s pharmaceuticals unit, Stefan Oelrich, told Reuters on Friday.

The European Commission said this week that the publication of a first draft of a planned revision of drug legislation in the bloc would be “slightly later” than March 29, as initially planned.

A version that was leaked earlier this year showed that Brussels was preparing to shorten an additional period of intellectual property protection, known as data exclusivity, which comes on top of drug patent protection.

“The duration of data exclusivity, which may be reduced, could actually have a catastrophic impact for Europe,” said Oelrich.

Shaving one or two years off the exclusivity period could mean that pharma companies pull the plug on certain development projects for the region, he added.

He said the intentions of Brussels lawmakers – improving patient access to innovative drugs while making the European pharma sector more competitive – were noble but any shortening of intellectual property protection would have the opposite effect.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Jonathan Oatis)