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Lawrenceville, NJ (Dr Charles B. Simone) – “Mexico Becomes First Country to Approve USMCA” reads the headline (June 20, 2019), a trade agreement that replaces NAFTA.  Big Pharma is protected but not Americans.

In the early 1980s the United States began using trade as leverage to protect our intellectual property, including pharmaceuticals, making it a precondition for all trade agreements. Those countries had to have enforceable patent laws, copyright laws, and trademark laws.

If the United States Mexico Canada Agreement passes, the United States will impose drug-patent terms to Mexico and Canada.  This gives Big Pharma 10 years of data exclusivity to new biologic agents – longer than before. Soon after President Trump signed the USMCA, Big Pharma increased prices on 250 prescription drugs, including the best selling Humira (adalimumab).  Biologics account for 30% of all Big Pharma sales and represent only 1% of all prescriptions.  And every year, biologic sales increase by 10%.

Big Pharma’s rational for their protection in these trade deals is that the partner countries would raise pharmaceutical prices in those countries.  That has not happened.  

Big Pharma continues to manufacture and own their patents in low-tax rate countries, like Ireland, to avoid paying United States taxes. Ireland is the main exporter of pharmaceuticals to the U.S.  Ireland’s tax rate to companies is only 12.5%.   About 80% of pharmaceutical ingredients and 40% of the finished products are imported to the U.S. (source: FDA).   

Americans have lost pharmaceutical jobs, pay higher prescription drug prices, the American trade deficit grows costing the American taxpayer more money, and Americans continue to greatly subsidize Big Pharma (BIG PHARMA SAYS NEW DRUG COSTS $1.3 BILLION, BUT REALLY LESS THAN $125 MILLION). 

(c) 2019 Charles B. Simone, M.MS., M.D.