Jan 16, 2020

U.S.-China trade deal could be good for Big Pharma

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's new trade agreement with China includes patent protections that could be a big boon to drug companies.

Why it matters: China's enormous population is a lucrative market for pharma, and the country is also actively trying to build up its own domestic drug industry. But it's not guaranteed that China will actually abide by the agreement.

Details: The trade agreement would set up patent protections in China that are similar to U.S. law.

  • It would help protect branded drugs from generic competition while they're still under patent protection.
  • Drugmakers could also receive a patent extension if there's a delay during the approval process.

The big picture: This is good news for Big Pharma, especially after biologic protections were recently removed from the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that's currently making its way through Congress.

  • But the agreement doesn't include a measure giving drugs a certain patent exclusivity period, something the industry has been pushing for in trade deals in the recent past, specifically for biologics.

Between the lines: If China complies with the agreement, it'd be great for American drug companies, which could enter the Chinese market with the expectation that their patents would be respected. But it could also be good for China's budding drug industry.

  • "This is a way for them to be able to create a domestic industry but also maintain affordability and access, which China is going to do anyway because it’s a controlled economy," said Chris Campbell, chief strategist at Duff & Phelps.

The bottom line, from Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian:

  • It's up to China to implement the legal protections it has agreed to in the deal -- but significantly, the agreement does include six pages outlining an evaluation and enforcement mechanism. That's a step in the right direction.
  • But Chinese government officials have previously falsified data, and China has reneged on agreements in the past.

Go deeper: China offers drug companies market access in exchange for lower prices

Go deeper

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Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.