The Austrian social security system has been characterised by regional and occupational fragmentation and the domination of employee representatives. However, a recent amendment to the Social Security Act proposes merging the provincial social security institutions with the company insurers into one Austrian Health Insurer, which will be the only provider of employee health insurance.
The two chambers of the Austrian Parliament recently adopted the government bill on the amendment of the Act on the Medical Profession. The amendment will enter into force following its publication in the Law Gazette, which is expected in late January 2019.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in an interesting case relating to comparative advertising. The court ultimately found that the challenged announcement was 'comparative advertising' within the meaning set out in Section 2a(1) of the Unfair Competition Act, as it directly and indirectly identified a competitor and its goods and services. The decision follows the letter of the law and perfectly summarises the legal structure regarding comparative and drug advertising in Austria.
The Supreme Court recently provided an extensive description of the principles of medical liability and held, in concrete terms, that the standard of care principle must not be overstretched. The court confirmed that the expert liability provided for in the General Civil Code is based on an objective standard and thus depends on the usual diligence of the persons who carry out the activity in question. As such, the performance standard of the occupational group concerned will be a decisive factor.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on the advertising of a product which sits in the grey zone between medicinal products, medical devices and foodstuffs. Among other things, the plaintiffs had originally requested that the defendant be prohibited from offering and distributing products containing zeolite and bentonite as medical devices if they were not authorised as such, including disease-related information in the advertising of those products and promoting the products as "vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free".
A legislative package aimed at fighting falsified medicines will enter into force in the European Union in early 2019. This EU legal framework was transposed into Belgian law through the Medicines Act and the Royal Decree concerning Medicines for Human and Veterinary Use. As a result, pharmaceutical companies will be required to affix a so-called 'anti-tampering device' on all prescription medicinal products to allow verification of whether the packaging has been tampered with.
Since 2016 Minas Gerais has been establishing transparency laws to create a system whereby consumers and society at large will be able to access information regarding incentives and payments between healthcare professionals and the health industry. Under the state laws, the health industry must provide information on the relationships that they maintain with healthcare professionals which may represent a potential conflict of interest.
The importance of clinical research for developing new treatments and discovering cures for diseases is indisputable. However, the degree to which patients benefit from participating in clinical trials and whether they should have post-trial access to experimental treatments are highly disputed, especially in Brazil, where free universal healthcare is a constitutional right. The House of Representatives is discussing clinical research and post-trial access as part of a new legislative bill.
One of the most influential moves in the healthcare sector is the recent development of point-of-care solutions. The main goal is to allow patients to get on-demand healthcare outside the hospital, mainly through medical devices and apps. Such technologies are likely to have a significant positive effect in the Brazilian public health system by making diagnostic testing accessible in areas where healthcare is hard to access.
The continuity of traditional healthcare models seems unlikely with the breakthrough of disruptive technologies. Historically, the healthcare sector has been slow to implement technological tools that have quickly transformed other areas of people's daily lives. However, a promising solution to address the interoperability, integrity and security challenges presented in the healthcare sector seems to be blockchain technology.
Advances in technology and the so-called 'fourth industrial revolution' continue to have an effect on society. For instance, telemedicine has rapidly developed and transformed the services provided by healthcare providers worldwide. Due to the expansion of telemedicine in Brazil, the Federal Council of Medicine intends to review and update Resolution 1643, which will hopefully attract new players to the market.
The Federal Court of Appeal recently allowed in part Apotex's appeal of a decision awarding Eli Lilly more than C$100 million for Apotex's infringement of eight process patents relating to the antibiotic cefaclor. The court rejected Apotex's argument that a non-infringing alternative would have been available to Apotex during the relevant period. The case was remitted to the Federal Court for reconsideration on the issue of prejudgment interest; Apotex has applied to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal.
In December 2017 Apotex was awarded more than C$11 million in damages and pre-judgment interest for losses resulting from delays in the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of its amoxicillin-clavulanic acid and levodopa-carbidopa products, which had been caused by contractual breaches and negligence on the part of MDS Pharma Services (MDS). However, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently dismissed MDS's appeal and Apotex's cross-appeal of that judgment.
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recently announced that CWC Pharmacies (Ontario) Ltd (Costco Pharmacies), a subsidiary of Costco, has been ordered to pay an administrative monetary penalty of C$7.25 million for accepting payments from certain generic manufacturers which had violated the prohibition on drug rebates.
The OHIP+ programme was implemented by the Province of Ontario to provide free prescription drug coverage for all children and youths (ie, individuals aged 24 and under), regardless of family income or whether they have private insurance. However, under proposed amendments to Ontario Regulation 201/96 made under the Ontario Drug Benefit Act, only children and youths without private insurance will continue to receive coverage through the OHIP+ programme.
Further to its Action Plan on Medical Devices, Health Canada has released, among other documents, a notice announcing an upcoming meeting of its Scientific Advisory Committee on Medical Devices used in the Cardiovascular System and draft guidance to better define regulatory compliance requirements for emerging technologies.
The State Council recently promulgated amendments to the Regulation on the Supervision and Administration of Medical Devices 2014, which took effect immediately. The amendments clarify issues relating to device distributors' liabilities when selling non-conforming products, the use of large medical equipment and the revocation of clinical study site certification.
The China Food and Drug Administration recently issued four new draft policies for public comment, proposing further reforms to the existing drug and medical device regulatory regime. The draft policies aim to expedite the review and approval of new drug and medical device applications, deregulate the conduct of clinical trials to encourage innovation, enhance post-market supervision throughout a product's lifecycle and protect innovators' rights.