New U.S. Trade Deal May Bring Higher Drug Prices to U.K.

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. politicians under pressure to clinch a new trade agreement with the U.S. could compromise on the way their country regulates medicines, making prescription drugs more expensive after Brexit, three researchers wrote.

Under President Donald Trump, “American drug pricing policy now has the explicit and unusual goal of making drugs more expensive in other countries,” Holly Jarman, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, and two England-based colleagues said in an article published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday.

The U.K. must negotiate new trade deals with old partners to keep buying and selling goods abroad after it leaves the European Union. But it will have less bargaining power as a single country and will face a U.S. administration intent on having other nations pay more for drugs, Jarman wrote with Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Tamara Hervey of the University of Sheffield.

Read more: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May unveils her soft-Brexit blueprint

“It seems likely that the U.S.A. would pressure the U.K. during future trade negotiations to make changes to the way it regulates pharmaceuticals,” they wrote. “It is naive to think that the U.K. could get a deal with the U.S.A. on better terms than EU member states bargaining collectively can.”

The U.S. stance is designed to protect drugmakers’ revenue rather than consider the complex issues of drug-development funding and quality as a whole, they said.

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