trade deal

Former Congressman Joe Crowley almost immediately became a lobbyist after losing the 2018 Democratic primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York). Now, he’s pushing for the passage of President Trump’s trade deal.

The trade deal, which Trump dubbed the “USMCA” (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) is a newer version of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) trade deal former President Bill Clinton passed in the 1990s. Now, as a lobbyist for Squire Patton Boggs, Joe Crowley is pushing for Congress to pass the USMCA on behalf of the firm’s pharmaceutical clients.

“I’m excited to join the pass USMCA coalition. USMCA is a landmark trade victory for America’s workers,” Crowley stated. “My former colleagues should take action to ratify the agreement quickly.”

Trump’s $1.2 trillion trade deal has been criticized for paving the way for higher drug prices in the U.S., which may be why drug companies are pushing for its passage. In October 2018, Public Citizen’s Peter Maybarduk, who focuses on drug prices, said the new trade deal would grant far-reaching intellectual property protections to Big Pharma, meaning it would be harder for other drug manufacturers to make, cheaper generic versions of prescription drugs.

As the Associated Press reported in 2018, there have been 96 price hikes for every prescription drug price that’s been cut, despite President Trump running on lowering drug prices as a candidate. One of the most egregious examples is the drug Firdapse, which is so expensive that one year’s supply costs as much as a four-bedroom, 3,000 square-foot house.

“The revised rules would further strain health care budgets, contribute to people’s suffering and family financial hardship, and most likely cost people their lives,” Maybarduk said.

A rule buried in the agreement would give pharmaceutical companies at minimum 10 years of market exclusivity for biologic drugs, which are among the most important and expensive new medical technologies… Maybarduk said the USMCA essentially gives drug makers a government-sponsored monopoly on new drugs, and the 10-year patent rule is the “worst” of its kind to appear in a trade deal negotiated by the US.

As of this writing, the USMCA has little chance of passing a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. However, as the former House Democratic Caucus chairman, Crowley will be able to apply significant pressure to his former colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle to pass the agreement, so its defeat is not certain.

 

Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.

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