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American consumers may not have benefited all that much from the pharmaceutical components of trade deals, a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine argues.

The big picture: Starting with NAFTA, every U.S. trade agreement made since has included a pharmaceutical component.

Details: The article's authors — the Council on Foreign Relation's Thomas Bollyky and Brigham & Women's Hospital's Aaron Kesselheim — write that the inclusion of these provisions has had "a mixed record in delivering on its goals."

  • The Trump administration's NAFTA replacement — the USMCA — gives biologics 10 years of market exclusivity, a huge industry win.

By the numbers: The pharmaceutical trade deficit has swelled to $52 billion, and the number of Americans employed by the drug industry hasn't changed much since 2001.

  • The Food and Drug Administration estimates that we import 80% of active drug ingredients and 40% of finished drugs, and drug companies have increasingly shifted patents and manufacturing abroad to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
  • While our pharma industry is very profitable, we're also spending more for their brand products, while other countries are still paying less than us for drugs.

The bottom line: "Americans and their representatives are ignoring history if they expect the inclusion in the USMCA of longer exclusivity for biologics to redress the U.S. trade deficit, loss of manufacturing jobs, and high prescription-drug prices," the authors conclude.

Go deeper: Troubles ahead for Trump's NAFTA replacement

Go deeper

4 mins ago - World

International Criminal Court opens Israel-Palestine war crimes probe

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu has strongly objected to the investigation. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday announced her intention to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories since 2014.

Why it matters: The investigation is expected to consider possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza, as well as the construction of West Bank settlements by Israel. It could sharply increase tensions between Israel, which fiercely opposes the probe, and Palestinian leaders, who requested it.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
42 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Exxon says it's well-positioned amid investor pressure

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ExxonMobil said Wednesday that its oil-and-gas development plans will create good returns even at modest oil prices as the company looks to win back investor confidence after several rocky years.

Driving the news: The company, just ahead of an investor presentation this morning, said its investments are designed to generate returns of over 30% and touted its spending reductions.

58 mins ago - Technology

Google says goodbye to individual user tracking

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Google made clear Wednesday that after it finished phasing out third-party cookies over the next year or so, it won't introduce other forms of identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web.

Why it matters: The move comes amid increased scrutiny over the way tech giants use consumer data to reinforce their dominance, particularly around personalized advertising.

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