I’m having a really hard time understanding what it is that is being moaned about over the NHS, drug prices and trade deals. Corbyn’s making a large deal out of what I can’t see as being a problem in the slightest:
There is a plot against our NHS. Boris Johnson is engaged in a cover-up of secret talks for a sell-out American trade deal that would drive up the cost of medicines and lead to runaway privatisation of our health service.
US corporations want to force up the price we pay for drugs, which could drain £500m a week from the NHS. And they demand the green light for full access to Britain’s public health system for private profit.
Our public services are not bargaining chips to be traded in secret deals. I pledge a Labour government will exclude the NHS, medicines and public services from any trade deals – and make that binding in law.
Mega-corporations see Johnson’s toxic alliance with Donald Trump as a chance to make billions from sick people in Britain and around the world. His hard-right Brexit plans depend on a corporate-driven trade deal with America post-election.
The basic allegation doesn’t make sense.
US negotiating objectives demand “full market access” in the UK for American pharmaceutical companies: meaning an end to drug price controls in plain language. Trump has complained loudly about what he calls the “unreasonably low prices” other countries pay for medicines, and the US insisted on including pharmaceuticals in recent trade deals with Canada, Mexico and South Korea.
Does the NHS pay less for drugs? Sure it does. But what does a trade deal have to do with that? Whatever trade deal is concluded the NHS will have the ability to say “No, thank you” to whatever price someone tries to charge. As it does now.
For this is what it does. That new cystic fibrosis drug, they’ve said it’s too expensive, we’re not buying it. So, they’re not buying it. How does any trade deal at all change that?
Do note that market access means just what it says. Access. It doesn’t mean forcing someone to sign the cheque. It just says that foreigners get the same rights to present their offer as locals.
Now, of course, it’s possible that there’s something else behind this. But here’s the thing – this is all based upon Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now. He’s the reference point for all these allegations of what a trade deal might mean. And he’s full of the most entire colei on all trade related subjects. That is, given the source, I simply do not believe any of the claims in the slightest.
So, anyone care to explain how, exactly, a trade deal pushes up the cost to the NHS of drugs? How does “full market access” alter the ability of the NHS to negotiate prices? Yes, I am aware that American law bans Medicare from negotiating prices but that’s not a trade deal.
Anyone care to explain to us the details of this claim?