Mexican drug industry groups have united in opposition to a new bill that could see important changes made to local patent law. Drafted in light of recent global trade developments, the bill would relax intellectual property constraints on imported drugs added to Mexico's basket of essential drugs, whenever government supplies run short. The plan -- tabled by minority political party PVEM -- is awaiting approval by Mexico's Senate.

Industry concerns are related to the fact that PVEM's leadership is close to a prominent Mexican manufacturer of copy drugs, or so-called "similares." Observers believe that the measure has some chance of success, following PVEM's recent alliance talks with a heavyweight political party, the PRI. For its part, PVEM insists that the plan would not impact patented drugs. Meanwhile, opponents claim another proposal -- tying government drug prices to inflation -- would boost cheap imports.

Representatives of Mexico's drug industry now claim that the bill would infringe both TRIPS and Article 77 of the country's Industrial Property Law. Meanwhile, other observers note that political measures of this type are likely to proliferate as Mexico approaches presidential elections in 2006.