Last weekend saw Donald Trump going after countries who have national drug-buying agencies (like Pharmac) which allows them to negotiate with drug manufacturers for drug bundles resulting in lower prices.
New Zealand was one of the first countries to set up a national drug-buying agency in 1993, with many other countries following our model. Pharmac negotiates with drug companies to get their patented drugs, accepting to take some of the drugs that company manufacturers that are no longer under patent as well. This makes patented drugs cheaper for New Zealanders overall.
Trump claims practices like have made America’s drug prices the highest in the world, blaming the rest of the world for pushing up prices at home. He plans to “make fixing this injustice a top priority with every trading partner” by negotiating with other countries to pay more in trade deals like the TPPA.
Former medical director of Pharmac Dr Peter Moodie told Stuff: “Trump’s argument that foreign countries have been ripping off drug companies is an argument that drug companies have been using for 20 years.” He went on to say profits made by drug companies are “absolutely huge” and much of what they call ‘research’ is actually marketing.
Jacinda Ardern responded to Trump’s comments on the Herald by saying that Pharmac would be protected in any future trade deals with US, as it has always been.
“We have always been at great pains to protect Pharmac and we will in the future.”
This week, public health research from the University of Otago published a paper outlining how to prevent trade and investment treaties are putting public health in the backseat. The researchers, led by Louise Delaney, propose a new framework for designing treaties, placing international health, environmental protection, and human rights as having priority over business interests.
Stuff.co.nz: President Donald Trump wants to build a drug cartel – and wants NZ to pay for it
Radio NZ: Trump ‘threatening’ over pharmaceuticals
NZ Herald: Jacinda Ardern: Pharmac will be protected in trade deals after Trump threats
NZ Doctor: Calls for Pharmac to be protected after Trump threatens to increase drug prices
Stuff.co.nz: Can Donald Trump really change the cost of New Zealand drugs?