Sen. Orrin Hatch (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Trump administration's new trade deal with Canada and Mexico includes a big win for pharmaceutical companies and Republicans — a provision to protect biologic drugs from competition for 10 years.

Why it matters: Republicans say this will spread the cost of developing new drugs beyond the U.S. market, lowering American drug prices. By shielding the drugs from generic competition in Canada and Mexico, the measure will also help pharmaceutical companies reap more profits abroad.

The big picture: Biologics are a class of highly complex, generally very expensive drugs.

  • New biologics get 12 years of market exclusivity in the U.S. market, but 10 years is longer than they currently receive in Canada or Mexico. It's also much longer than the Obama administration had negotiated in its trade deals.
  • In the Obama era, “both countries said unequivocally that they weren’t going to move beyond five years … so to get this result is almost miraculous," said a former senior GOP official intimately involved in Obama and Trump-era trade negotiations.
  • "It will add cost to their national health care systems ... especially in Canada," the official added, but will lead to the creation of new cures “without the United States being the piggy bank for all those research and development dollars."

What we're watching: This was a key issue in the fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch argued that the exclusivity period for biologics was not long enough in that deal.

  • “Chairman Hatch continues to believe that the standard of protection for biologics should be consistent with U.S. law, but he is encouraged that the administration was able to secure 10 years of data protection with Canada and Mexico, the highest standard in any trade agreement," a spokesman said in a statement yesterday.

What they're saying: “We feel this is bad news for patients who are seeking more affordable biologics. It would delay biosimilar competition," Jeff Francer, general counsel for the Association for Accessible Medicines, told Axios when the administration's trade deal with Mexico — also featuring a 10-year protection period — was announced in August.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 mins ago - Science

NASA confirms water exists on sunny parts of the Moon


Water on the Moon might be more easily accessible than previously thought, opening up new possible avenues for future human exploration, according to a new study.

Why it matters: NASA is aiming to send people back to the Moon as part of its Artemis program by 2024, with plans to eventually create a sustainable presence on the lunar surface. That sustainability relies on mining the moon for its resources, like water.

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pence no longer expected at Amy Coney Barrett's final confirmation vote

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend the Senate's final confirmation vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Monday, following Senate Democrats' claims that his presence after possible exposure to the coronavirus would be a "violation of common decency," a Pence aide confirmed to CNN and Politico on Monday.

Driving the news: Five of Pence's aides were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, including his chief of staff, who is currently quarantining. Pence has continued his campaign travel despite his possible exposure, which goes against CDC guidelines.

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging — Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after exposure puts others at risk — Pence no longer expected to attend Barrett confirmation vote after COVID exposure.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. World: Restrictions grow across Europe.
  6. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.