U.S. trade rep drops Israel from watch list

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel and the United States Trade Representative struck a deal that will remove Israel from the USTR watch list.

Israel was on the Special 301 Priority Watch List, which monitors international intellectual property, because of a disagreement over protections of pharmaceuticals.

Israel had allowed the manufacture of generic drugs five years after a patented drug was approved for use. Other violations cited by USTR included the failure to adequately address Internet piracy and leaking undisclosed pharmaceutical data obtained from U.S. manufacturers.

Under the new agreement announced last week by the Israeli Embassy in Washington, foreign companies can market their product exclusively for a longer period of time in Israel and will receive commercial incentive to introduce new drugs into the Israeli health care system in a timely fashion. When the drug’s patent expires in either the United States or Europe, Israeli generic companies can begin manufacturing.

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who has pushed to have Israel removed from the list, welcomed the agreement.

"I have long believed that Israel, a close ally at the cutting edge of IP innovation with strong IP laws and rigorous IP enforcement, should not have been included in the Special 301 report," he said.

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