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U.S. Trade Deals Have Not Increased Drug Prices In Other Countries

Foreign Affairs: Why U.S. Trade Deals Haven’t Exported U.S. Drug Prices
Thomas J. Bollyky, senior fellow for global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University

“Pharmaceuticals are at the center of the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as they have been for every recent U.S. trade deal. … [C]urrent evidence suggests that it may be time to move beyond the large pricing and spending claims made for and against the pharmaceutical provisions in U.S. trade deals and to focus the trade and medicines debate elsewhere. … [T]he volume of pharmaceuticals consumed has grown, and there has been no discernible trend toward on-patent or branded medicines and away from cheap generic drugs. … For health activists who believe the patent-based model of drug development is unsustainable and inequitable, the use of trade agreements to spread and entrench that system internationally is deeply concerning. … But having the fight over U.S. trade deals focus on their effect on international drug prices (where the evidence is thin) ensures that those concerns go unaddressed. And so, the pharmaceutical terms of each U.S. trade agreement are usually more expansive and prescriptive than the last but include phase-ins and other concessions to mitigate price effects in other countries that may never arise” (3/23).

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