An agreement in principle between Canada and the European Union on a free-trade deal would give Canadian pharmaceutical companies additional patent protection. Under the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement, Canada has agreed to adopt EU measures on so-called patent term restoration. Drug patent terms around the world typically last for 20 years. But if the time from when a patent application is filed on a new drug to when marketing approval is granted is more than five years, many countries grant the drugmaker an extra two years of patent protection as compensation. Canada is currently one of the few developed countries that doesn’t provide any form of patent extension for time lost during the drug approval process. “A more level playing field in intellectual property protection can lead to more investment in the research and development of new medicines and vaccines here at home,” says Russell Williams, president of Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, an association representing the country’s brand-name drug industry. The agreement must be approved by all 28 EU members as well as by Canada’s provinces and territories, a process that could take two years.