OTTAWA - A new federal law extending patent protection on new drugs will lead to a doubling of R&D spending over the next decade, Canada's pharmaceutical manufacturers have promised. But this $1.4 billion (Canadian) commitment, made through the 64- member Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association of Canada, has met with some skepticism.

PMAC President Judy Erola acknowledged the problem when she testified last fall that "some have said that the industry has never invested this kind of money in the past so why would it be expected to do so in the future? We have not done so precisely because we were never sure that our investments would be protected for a defined period of time."

A 1969 change in the patent act allowed generic drug manufacturers to produce copies of patented products once they had appeared on the market under what was called "compulsory licensing." This effectively reduced the patent protection...

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