U.S pharmaceuticals could benefit from revised U.S-Korea trade pact

U.S. pharmaceuticals may stand to gain if revisions to a longstanding trade agreement between the United States and South Korea, announced in September, are approved and implemented.

The updates to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS)  include a provision to include American companies in a “national drug reimbursement program” which currently offers premium pricing for certain new domestically produced drugs. The change has been pushed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which has argued that the low prices for domestic drugs make it difficult for U.S. pharmaceuticals to compete.

The agreement does not need U.S. congressional approval to take effect. But South Korea’s parliament does have to ratify the deal. In September, Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy opened up a public comment period on the new provisions. The Seoul government has said it hopes the revisions could be approved by the end of the year.