Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 Puts Big Pharma First, America Second

Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 Puts Big Pharma First, America Second

And yet, the president’s new version of NAFTA — the uncreatively named United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — actually forbids the U.S. Congress from curtailing Big Pharma’s patent monopolies on some of the world’s most expensive drugs. In other words: Trump’s “America First” trade deal restricts U.S. sovereignty, for the sake of locking in high drug prices.

In the U.S. today, drug companies that produce new “biologics” — specialty drugs made with living cells — are provided 12 years of immunity from generic competition. This awards such firms monopolistic pricing power over their (often life-saving) medicines for more than a decade after their wares hit the market. The rationale for this policy is that companies will not invest in high-cost biologic research if they aren’t guaranteed windfall profits for their innovations. But even if one accepts this (tendentious) premise, a 12-year monopoly appears both arbitrary and excessive. In Mexico, biologic makers are only immunized against competition from so-called “biosimilars” for five years; in Canada, such protections last eight. Congressional Democrats have drafted legislation that would cut the duration of biologic monopolies down to seven years.

via NYMag Trump’s NAFTA 2.0 Puts Big Pharma First, America Second