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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

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

Report: John Kerry plans to visit China ahead of Biden's climate summit

John Kerry. Photo: Zach Gibson / Stringer

John Kerry, President Biden's special climate envoy, is expected to travel to China next week for meetings with officials aimed at boosting collaboration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter and the U.S. is second-largest.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hold steady at 65,000 per day — CDC declares racism "a serious public health threat" — WHO official: Brazil is dealing with "raging inferno" of a COVID outbreak
  2. Vaccines: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall — Pfizer asks FDA to expand COVID vaccine authorization to adolescents — CDC says Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply will drop 80% next week.
  3. Economy: Treasury says over 156 million stimulus payments sent out since March — More government spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth.
  4. Politics: Supreme Court ends California's coronavirus restrictions on home religious meetings
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Second senior Matt Gaetz aide resigns amid federal investigation

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) walking out of the Capitol in January 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Devin Murphy, Rep. Matt Gaetz's legislative director, has stepped down amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations against the Florida Republican congressman, the New York Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.

The latest: "It's been real," Murphy wrote in an email, obtained by Axios, to Republican legislative directors on Saturday morning, with the subject line: "Well...bye."

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