Singapore : HSA Strengthens Pharmaceutical Patent Protection Laws

On April 20, 2004, Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) released a draft Bill to amend Singapore Medicines Act. The Bill will improve Singapore standing in the medical industry through better protection of pharmaceutical patents. It will also help attract more research-based pharmaceutical companies to invest or establish research and development centers in Singapore.

The Bill protects current license holders through stronger patent protection measures added to several sections of the Medicines Act. These sections provide that a product license may not be issued if a license for the same or a similar product was issued within the past five years. Additionally, the amended Bill will affect the patent application and approval process for pharmaceuticals in Singapore. Upon receiving a patent application, the HSA will now consider whether a patent is already in force for a related product. If this is the case, the HSA will then determine whether the applicant is the proprietor of the patent. If the applicant is not the proprietor, the HSA will determine whether the proprietor has given consent for granting the license to the applicant, or the HSA will decide to label the patent invalid.