Malta Patent Anomaly Driving Pharmaceutical Investment
According to Andrew Jack writing for the Financial Times on September 19 2005, although Malta has strong intellectual property protection laws, due to its small population of 400,000, few pharmaceutical companies ever bothered to incur the costs of obtaining Maltese patent protection. This patent anomaly has reportedly turned the tiny Mediterranean island into an unexpected investment location for the pharmaceutical industry:
The leading drugs companies have now begun registering their patents in Malta,
although they cannot do so retrospectively. There is also pressure to tighten the Bolar provision [EC Directive 2004/27/EC on pre-patent-expiry development activity] on across Europe. The even lower costs of the rising number of Indian generics companies are posing a fresh challenge. "We have a window of
opportunity for 15 years," says Joseph Tabona, chairman of Malta Enterprise, the local inward investment agency. "We view generics as a stepping stone
to other things such as 'health tourism' as we construct a new hospital."