Asked if Washington would be free to “jack up prices”, the Foreign Secretary replied: “The Americans will take their decisions.”
He then claimed: “I think it’s hugely unlikely, why would they do that?” – prompting Sky News interviewer Adam Boulton to say: “To get money that’s why.”
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The comments come after documents released by Labour revealed that drug pricing has been discussed by US and UK negotiators in exploratory talks.
Officials from the department for international trade officials had “positive bilaterals” and met with PhRma, the US pharmaceutical lobbing group, to discuss priorities for a future trade deal.
The government would “walk away” rather than sign up to an agreement that put the health service at risk, he said.
However, the US has demanded “full market access” in the NHS and is known to want to end the ability of Nice, which regulates medicine prices in the UK, to block drugs it does not consider value for money.
The Trump administration also wants to change patent law, potentially paving the way for US drug firms to demand higher prices for their medicines and over a longer period of time.