Health Canada, the country's federal health department, has officially launched the new process for all pharmaceutical trademark submissions. The "Guidance Document for Industry-Review of Drug Brand Names" went into effect on June 13. From this point forward, all brand name submissions are expected to follow the revised process. Prior to the submission of a trademark/brand name to Health Canada, the submitting company must have conducted, at the very least, initial trademark name review, look-alike (visual similarity) review, sound-alike (phonetic similarity) review, simulation name studies, and Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA).
While a guidance document is meant to provide information and assistance on how to comply with statutes and regulations, and theoretically is not a "law," Health Canada has spent several years on the process and it is expected that there will be little flexibility in the implementation. It is more important than ever to make sure that adequate searching and testing of proposed pharmaceutical trademarks takes place prior to the submission to Health Canada.