U.S. CALLS FOR END TO GLOBAL TARIFFS ON MEDICINES, MEDICAL DEVICES
The U.S. has called for ending global tariffs on medicines and medical devices, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced.
According to the United Nations, almost $33 billion in pharmaceuticals and $23 billion in medical equipment are still subject to trade duties, predominantly by developing countries, noted Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier at a recent meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The U.S. has joined Switzerland and Singapore in a proposal to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in medicine and medical devices as part of the WTO's nonagriculture market access agenda, Allgeier said.
"Support for this proposal would improve development and public health," according to USTR. The World Health Organization (WHO) also has urged countries to eliminate import tariffs on medicines and medical devices, USTR added. A WHO report issued last year showed many countries still impose import tariffs.
In some countries, tariffs inflate drug prices by roughly 10 percent, according to a recent study by the American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. The higher prices reduce patients' access to medicines, the study said. Study coauthor Richard Tren, of the advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria, has also cited slow-moving bureaucracies and poor infrastructure as barriers to access.