The Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), has modified the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) (31 C.F.R. Part 515) to allow joint medical research between persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction and Cuban nationals. In the context of the CACR, a “person subject to U.S. jurisdiction” includes any non-U.S. entity owned or controlled by a U.S. person or company directly or indirectly.

It is important to note that the focus of this rule is the development and sale of Cuban origin pharmaceutical products into the United Sates and not the sale of U.S. origin products into Cuba. The changes published today have no impact on the sale of U.S. origin pharmaceutical products into Cuba, and the modified rules do not eliminate the need for sales into Cuba to be licensed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and/or the Department of the Treasury.

As a result of this rule change, effective October 17, 2016, U.S. pharmaceutical companies and their foreign subsidiaries, as well as U.S. nationals, are authorized to engage in various types of transactions “incident to obtaining approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Cuban origin pharmaceuticals, including discovery and development, pre-clinical research, clinical research, regulatory review, regulatory approval and licensing, regulatory post-market activities, and the importation into the United States of Cuban-origin pharmaceuticals,” as well as the “marketing, sale, or other distribution in the United States of FDA-approved Cuban-origin pharmaceuticals, including the importation into the United States of Cuban-origin pharmaceuticals.”

In its most recent Portfolio of Opportunities for Foreign Investment, Cuba identified the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector, where BioCubaFarma has been producing vaccines and drug products for years, as one of the targets of foreign investment through strategic partnerships. Specifically, the Cuban government stated that it was promoting joint R&D projects, distribution and representation arrangements and technology transfer arrangements that complemented domestic projects in the sector. This week’s changes to the CACR will facilitate participation in these types of investments and activities in Cuba by U.S. companies.

For more information on how your company can take advantage of these modified regulations, practical insights on dealing with the Cuban government or the loosening of Cuban sanctions generally, please contact Eduardo Guzmán or Joan Koenig, co-chairs of Drinker Biddle’s Cuba team, or any other member of the Customs and International Trade Team.