International tariff elimination package passes

Pharmaceutical Representative

The United States joined 21 other trading nations in eliminating tariffs on pharmaceutical items.

The United States joined 21 other trading nations in eliminating tariffs on pharmaceutical items, including products for the treatment of breast cancer, AIDS, diabetes, asthma and Parkinson's disease.

The update, which took effect on July 1, follows more than two years of industry and government efforts and will add at least 642 new chemical and bulk drug ingredients to the list of more than 8,000 pharmaceutical products that may be traded free of import tariffs.

All 15 member states of the European Union, the Czech Republic, Japan, Norway, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland participated in the initiative, which includes both finished pharmaceutical products and related chemical intermediaries. In addition, countries participating in the agreement have agreed to update the list of covered products at least once every three years so that newly developed products can be added.

"The elimination of tariffs on these products will further expand U.S. overseas market access opportunities in Europe and Asia and will help reduce costs and improve productivity in this leading high-technology industry," said U.S. trade representative Charlene Barshefsky. "Consumers in the United States and around the world will benefit from lower pharmaceutical prices and, potentially, wider product choices."

According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Washington-based lobbying arm of the pharmaceutical industry, the tariff elimination package will also free up funds for additional research and development of new drugs.

"This update will benefit the world's patients by eliminating an unnecessary tax on research and development and [by] freeing up more funds to discover and develop new medicines," said PhRMA president Alan F. Holmer. "It costs an average of $500 million to research and bring to market just one new medicine, and U.S. companies will invest more than $24 billion in R&D this year alone." PR