How the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal may affect the cost of hep C drugs

The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) recently negotiated among the United States, Canada, Mexico, and eight South American and Asian countries, may help keep the high cost of hepatitis C drugs high.

Until now, most countries (notably excluding the United States) were able to negotiate costs with drug manufacturers. For example, Egypt procured Solvaldi for its citizens for a total treatment cost of about $900.

Parties to the TPP have agreed to “promote transparency and procedural fairness” in dealing with pharmaceuticals. Yet transparency is the last thing a good negotiator wants to use in bargaining down the cost of a product. Expert negotiators say you should never reveal your maximum purchase price to the seller. Concealment of your budget isn’t transparent, yet being upfront about the maximum price you might pay tends to make the negotiated price rise to that max.

Solvaldi, Harvoni, and Viekira Pak have already been through the negotiation roundtable. But with new hep C drugs arising to treat difficult genotypes, the future remains precarious under this trade deal.

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