While remaining indifferent to the demands made by developing countries at the informal meeting of the TRIPS COUNCIL on 19 June, in order to improve flexibility to ensure that the CEC TRIPS agreement does not constitute barriers to the use of vaccines and therapeutic medicines, the EU has argued that import duties on pharmaceuticals and medicines affect the poor and sick proportionately more than the rich or the likely good health. Follow-up studies carried out by the European Commission on the pharmaceutical sector survey (see Box 4.23) have shown that the number of patent comparisons that are problematic under EU cartel and abuse rules has decreased considerably in the years following the publication of the report. The third European Commission report on the control of patent applications in the pharmaceutical sector, published in July 2012, confirmed that, although the total number of comparisons concluded has increased considerably, the share of problematic comparisons for competition has stabilised, compared with 21% in the results of the sector survey. This shows that the Commission`s action has not prevented companies from making comparisons, contrary to the concerns expressed by some stakeholders in this regard. At the same time, monitoring exercises have been able to increase stakeholder awareness of competition issues in general, given the decrease in the number of problematic comparisons11. The United States has attempted to include drugs in bilateral and non-multilateral trade agreements with China and India and has failed. This is partly because the United States did not want the two countries to develop and compete with their massive pharmaceutical sector and have tried to limit Chinese and Indian capabilities. Nevertheless, both China and India have had to upgrade their own industries, both to support their billions of people and because the development of a local pharmaceutical industry would be an important source of jobs and national income. The pharmaceutical agreement is renewed on the basis of the most favoured nation (MFN). This means that the signatories extend the elimination of rights to all WTO members.
All WTO members therefore enjoy the benefits of duty-free trade for the signatory countries, whether they themselves are members or not. The United Kingdom will therefore continue to benefit from the tariff elimination measures of the negotiating parties and, in line with our technical remedial approach, the United Kingdom will continue to impose zero tariffs on medicines covered by the agreement28.15.Access to medicines is a public good and a good thing for British and European companies. World Health Organization studies show little or no use or justification for tariffs on pharmaceuticals, indicating that these tariffs produce less than 0.1 per cent of global GDP and, with a few exceptions, tariffs do not appear to be structured in general to protect the local pharmaceutical industry.40 The global nature of the industry , with complex supply chains and public and political pressure on access to new and innovative medicines. , means that we have not heard evidence supporting a protectionist approach or the imposition of tariffs on these products. For British patients, generic brands and drugs are almost exclusively subject to purchasing decisions by the National Health Service, a facility with limited resources. In 2017, the NHS paid nearly $16 million in prescription drugs, an increase of 7 percent over the previous year.41 companies informed us that the rates would increase costs42, which could lead to higher bills for NHS drugs or a reduction in access to drugs.