Free trade, always a subject of concern for business, has been a topic of particular interest for the pharmaceutical and allied industries this past week as individual companies and trade associations weigh in on the debate on several free-trade measures.
First, Eli Lilly Chairman, President, and CEO John C. Lechleiter urged that biopharmaceuticals be included in transatlantic trade and economic discussions under the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC). The TEC was initially proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007 to strengthen transatlantic economic cooperation between the United States and European Union.
“The TEC is an additional important forum which we should use to foster the growth of biotechnologies and promote biopharmaceutical innovation,” said Lechleiter, in a Eli Lilly statement. “An increased focus on biotech and innovative pharmaceuticals would complement the TEC’s existing efforts to advance the transatlantic harmonization of regulatory regimes affecting key future growth industries.” Lechleiter made his comments at the American Council on Germany’s conference on “The Transatlantic Partnership in the 21st Century.”
In his comments, Lechleiter noted that biopharmaceutical innovation is very susceptible to the political environment, both nationally and internationally. He cited that responses to short-term cost pressures by government payers are hampering the sector, noting recent reforms in Germany as an example. “We must ensure that healthcare reform in our countries will help promote biopharmaceutical innovation and not undermine it,” he said “Healthcare reform should focus on creating value through the system—and that means promoting innovation and efficiency. Even the absolute requirements of our sector in global markets—intellectual property protection, supply-chain security and anticounterfeiting measures—are far from secure.”
To spur transatlantic trade in pharmaceuticals and maintain medical innovation, Lechleiter called for consistent regulatory policies, intellectual property protection, and harmonized systems to deal with common issues such as counterfeiting. In addition to the TEC, he noted certain positive developments, including the recent Falsified Medicines Directive of the EU, which seeks to create a comprehensive anticounterfeiting system across the supply chain in Europe.
Meanwhile, The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) offered its support of three pending free-trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama and Colombia following actions by two Congressional committees that supported the FTAs, a key step in the process to gain full Congressional approval. SOCMA is the US-based trade association representing custom and batch manufacturers, including contract manufacturers of fine chemicals, pharmaceutical intermediates, and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
SOCMA supports the free-trade pacts as a means of boosting the chemical industry. It also said that pacts are important for showing support for other FTAs, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP Agreement is an Asia-Pacific regional trade agreement currently being negotiated among the United States and eight other partners: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. In May 2011, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America issued its support for Senate consideration of intellectual property protection measures in the TPP.
Macroeconomic factors, whether in the form of fiscal policy that affects drug-reimbursement levels from national governments or tax and trade policies, have an effect on the current and long-term health of the pharmaceutical industry and its suppliers. As national governments seek to balance the need for revenue-generation and their domestic agendas with business and economic growth, free-trade issues will continue to be an area of continued focus for the pharmaceutical industry