- American drugs firms believe the British market will be easier to crack after Brexit, according to a leaked document.
- US companies want the Trump administration to open up the UK market, despite warnings it would lead to much higher costs for the NHS.
- The document, leaked to the Mirror newspaper, reads: “Concerns about potential impacts on Britain’s National Health Service are being aired. It should prove easier to overcome these challenges with the UK as an individual negotiating partner.”
- Experts have warned that the NHS would be landed with a much bigger bill for medication and denied the chance to use cheaper alternatives if it agreed to Washington’s demands.
US health firms believe the NHS will be easier to crack after Brexit, according to a leaked document which reveals pressure on the Trump administration to open up Britain’s free healthcare system as part of a trade deal with the UK.
The document, written by the Chamber of Commerce and Coalition of Services Industries, indicates that US negotiators believe that contracts to supply the NHS with drugs will be easier to secure once it has left the EU, and is a smaller negotiating partner.
The document, which was leaked to the Mirror newspaper, states that: “Concerns about potential impacts on Britain’s National Health Service are being aired. It should prove easier to overcome these challenges with the UK as an individual negotiating partner.”
The document also confirms that the US will demand the right for pharmaceutical companies to bid for health services in the UK.
“The United States will seek rules that prohibit, across all services sectors, discrimination against foreign services suppliers and restrictions on the number of services suppliers in the market,” the document states.
The prospect of a free trade agreement with the US has often been trumpeted as one of the main attractions of leaving the EU.
But the US makes tough trade demands, especially under the “America First” policy of Donald Trump’s administration. It has already made it clear that it will demand much greater access to all UK markets, including drugs and food markets.
Experts have warned that hospitals and patients would have to pay billions more for drugs if the UK did agree to a trade deal with Donald Trump.
A report in November by the NHS Confederation, which represents most hospitals, warned that the NHS would be landed with a much bigger bill for medication and denied the chance to use cheaper alternatives if it agreed to Washington’s demands.
“Regarding pricing, the USA objectives [in the trade deal talks] seek to ‘provide full market access [in the UK] for US products'[…] Under the [VPAS] scheme, NHS expenditure on branded medicines is capped, ensuring predictability of expenditure for the NHS on the entire branded medicines bill.
“One can imagine that such a scheme would not meet the USA’s objectives, which if achieved would result in higher prices for medicines and pass on costs to both patients and the NHS,” the report said.
Trump denies the NHS is on the table
Trump insisted on Wednesday that he would not be interested in access to the NHS if it was presented “on a silver platter.”
However, during a previous visit to the UK in June, Trump suggested that the NHS would be “on the table” as part of trade talks before he attempted to backtrack.
Johnson’s Conservative party have repeatedly insisted that the NHS will not be part of trade talks with the US.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn believes the potential privatisation of the NHS is one of Labour’s strongest cards in the election campaign.
“If that’s the case, why have these talks gone on for two years?” Corbyn told the BBC on Tuesday.
Responding to the leaked trade document, Labour’s shadow health secretary John Ashworth said: “Today’s revelations are yet more evidence that US big pharma companies are lining up to cash-in on a toxic Johnson-Trump deal.
“These mega-corporations want us to pay more for medicine and the proposed US-UK deal could draw £500 million a week from our NHS.”