FreeTrade Agreements cut prices

What a bizarre idea that if we gave a Free Trade agreement with the USA drug prices will go up. The whole point of an FTA is it takes tariffs and barriers off to make things cheaper. If it didn’t why would you sign it? The government has made clear it will not put the NHS at risk from an FTA.

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  1. Carson
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    The government “made clear” the UK would leave the EU on 31 October and “made clear” that it would never accept a border in the Irish Sea. You cannot believe one single word this government says

    • Hope
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Cameron made it clear numerous times what leaving meant including WTO terms! May made it clear 108 times the UK would leave the EU on the 29/03/2019, then the 12/04/2019. The U.K. Would not particpate in EU elections, but did. Johnson would leave do or die by 31/10/2019. No deal better than a bade deal by all. Both agreed a servitude plan for no good reason with hundreds of billions liabilities and continuous tens of of billions for an unknown period of time.

      The facts simply demonstrate withoutmquestion the Tory party cannot be trust on any main policy issue and particularly Brexit.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Good Evening Sir John,

      I have read most of the messages here, I think you can take it that the majority are Conservative party voters. However, the thread is that we are ANGRY. The PCP has been a dishonest disgrace for too many years, particularly since the Brexit vote. You will lose voters if your party doesn’t get back to its core principles, and do what it promises.
      Please ensure that this message is heard at the top of your Party.

    • Peter Wood
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      Good News!

      Mr Gove has stated emphatically that there’ll be NO Tory/Brexit Party pact. So we can expect an announcement for one in the next few days….

  2. Here and Now
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Drugs cost more in the US than in the EU. This is because of the immense lobbying power of US drug firms. So of course the whole point of a free trade agreement between the US and the UK will be to expose the NHS to aggressive US firms who will demand increased prices. Listen to Trump – “America First” – there will be only one winner from a US/ UK trade deal and it will not be the UK

    Reply Why would we buy dearer drugs from the US when we can get cheaper ones elsewhere?

    • tim
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Here and Now- we could also buy from India, China, any where! Drug prices are a tiny fraction of the cost in EU

      • Hope
        Posted November 5, 2019 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        It does beg the question why the Tory party does not expose the waste of PFI introduced by Labour which starves the health service of funds.

    • Dennis
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply – Why would we buy dearer drugs from the US when we can get cheaper ones elsewhere?

      I’m not au fait with trade deals but perhaps in the deal there is a clause which states that by unforeseen circs. the buyer must accept higher prices for the length of the contract/deal. No?

      Aslo didn’t the govt. pay higher prices when it didn’t need so via PFI contracts which forced it to?

      • libertarian
        Posted November 5, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Permalink


        NO there is no such clause. FTAs do not work on a product by product basis

      • zorro
        Posted November 7, 2019 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        That’s how it works in the EU.


    • Richard1
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      what would be the process under which a US drug company would ‘force’ the NHS to pay higher prices than it now does?

      will US car companies be able to ‘force’ me to pay 2.5x for an American made car over a German one because the US & UK have signed an FTA? Pls explain the process by which this could happen.

    • Ben Jones
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Drugs are patented. You cant just buy a cheaper version elsewhere. Honestly you should do some basic research before you write about things you dont understand

      Reply Generics, Ex patent drugs and negotiations with suppliers of patent drugs over price

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Exactly right, but the main thing that make our dire NHS such a risk (mainly to patients) is that it is funded from taxes. Thus killing all freedom of choice and making it a dire virtual state monopoly. Also it is an incompetently run, free at the point of delays & rationing system. It is one of the worst systems of healthcare, measured on outcomes, for similarly developed nations.

    But nearly all the politicians seem to want to chuck yet more tax payers money at it. This rather than to address the real gross incompetence and damaging structural problems.

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink


      This rather than to address the real gross incompetence and damaging structural problems.

      Sad to say but you are correct. Worked with a head of his department who wanted to bring about real change. Not only his changes but the changes his staff wanted resulting from a survey I carried out on his behalf. It was based on what is and what should be, with an outline of a Direction Statement as his vision of what the future would be. Everything was fine until it went up to the main board. Need not say anymore

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 6, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Exactly anyone who want to make things better or more efficient is stamped on, sidelined or worse. This is largely the case in the whole of the state sector. Some of the private sector too.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 6, 2019 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Exactly anyone who wants to make things better or more efficient or point out wastage or incompetence is stamped on, sidelined or fired. This is largely the case in the whole of the state sector. Some of the private sector too.

  4. Alan Jutson
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Agreed JR but is this yet another strange view from a so called expert remainer ?

    If we are daft enough to give away our position and any advantage when in negotiations with a foreign power, just like we did with the W/A, then honestly we deserve all we get.

    A bit like Boris refusing to talk with Farage on Labour seats where the Conservatives do not have a hope of winning.

  5. Shirley
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Do you expect honesty from any party? I don’t. They have consistently lied to the electorate with their propaganda and the worst of the lies started in 1975 when the Conservative PM (Heath) deliberately lied to the electorate prior to the 1975 referendum. See FCO30/1048.
    Those in the electorate who are politically aware do their own research and form their own opinions and we now have the internet to facilitate that research. I got my information straight from the horses mouth, ie. the EU Treaties, prior to the 2016 referendum. I was absolutely disgusted that Parliament accepted those Treaties without a murmur and without electoral approval.

  6. Roy Grainger
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    The argument (as you know) is that currently as a massive monopoly the NHS is able to force the USA pharma companies to offer low prices, lower than they charge USA health providers even, and Trump regards this as unfair – USA consumers subsidising UK consumers and USA consumers preferentially having to fund the massive R&D spending pharma needs – and in any FTA he will include means (unspecified) of rectifying this situation. He has a point.

    • a-tracy
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      I wonder what are the drugs we buy from the USA that they charge the UK NHS less than they charge equally large health providers in the USA? Specifically, why does no-one ask the questions?

      In a free market is there only the USA that makes these type of drugs? Do they have manufacturing plants in the UK?

  7. Mark B
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Good morning – again.

    So am I also to assume that a FTA with the EU and any other country will also increase prices ? If so, then there is no need to pursue a FTA with the EU and others 😉

  8. Caterpillar
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    I guess the argument is whether the VPAS will come under threat at the end of 2023.

  9. Nig l
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    What a bizarre idea that someone publicly saying Leave means Leave secretly negotiates behind their back of the Minister of State with that responsibility, to do the opposite or her successor says we will leave on the 31st October come what may, or he will ‘die in a ditch’ but then blithely continues pushing an Agreement that is fundamentally different to the first one he trashed so roundly, but is nothing of the sort and so it goes on.

    What I find bizarre is the brazen way politicians, with some exceptions, hold a view for as long as they see an advantage and are then, in a nano second are prepared to turn up to 180 degrees if that disappears or they are bought off with a job and are then surprised that the public holds them in so much contempt.

    Physician heal,thyself.

  10. MPC
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    And Mr Barnier has already said a TA with the UK would take at least 3 years. No doubt it would be anything but ‘free’.

    • Ian terry
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 5:57 pm | Permalink


      No doubt it would be anything but ‘free’.

      You can bet everything you hold near and dear on that one

  11. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Free Trade Agreements with remote countries are generally about goods.

    The UK has a healthy surplus in the trade of *services* with the European Union, however.

    A typical FTA would be of no help in securing the continuation of that, therefore.

    They all involve negotiation, and it is not possible to say now what the trade-offs might be. One with the US could indeed involve paying more for any given class of items.

    • agricola
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Your last para suggests that there will be a compulsion in any agreement to buy from the USA. This is rubbish. It is by belonging to the EU who set protectionist tariffs against any country outside the EU that effectively makes EU goods attractve. Sugar is a prime example as tariff barriers are created against sugar , usually cane, that is markedly cheaper than home grown beet sugar.

      You may find that drugs from the USA are competetive in price when there is no duty against them. In any case the UK will be well placed to buy on quality and price from wherever they choose. If global international companies try to rig the market there are usually options the buyer can turn to. Having run my own international purchasing advice company for 40 years, rest assured that this is so.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted November 5, 2019 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

        I did not say that there “will” be anything.

        I said that terms are to be negotiated, and that there is nothing in principle to exclude certain classes of item being more expensive than they are now, even if the whole is considered advantageous.

        We don’t yet know, but the possibility is there.

        What’s more, outside of the European Union, the US would have this country well and truly over a barrel.

  12. Ian Wragg
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    The government never rebuts any of the bizarre project fear nonesense.
    It is obvious Boris like his predecessor wants to have a clear majority so he can ram through his abysmal WA.
    Farage is correct to try and deny him that majority so we can have a proper Brexit.
    The WA is not Brexit.

    • Zorro
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      EXACTLY. As I and others on this site have said continually about T May’s decision to hold an election in 2017 (allegedly with the connivance of Junker)…. The reason that the EU suggested it is because it is in their benefit. They are still getting the money whilst stringing us along for a prolonger, never ending FTA talks. Boris is dreaming if he thinks that they will believe he will walk away. He has right royally flunked it and missed his opportunity. If we had turned off the tap on 31/10, they would have been at our door very quickly for a no tariff agreement, as they export more to us than they import…. NO MATTER WHAT THEY MIGHT HAVE SAID BEFORE…. Merkel would have seen to that.

      I wonder if BJ understands how poorly he has played his hand…


  13. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I guess they think the FTA will force us to buy expensive US drugs in place of those cheaper EU ones, on the basis that the EU in an act of self-harm would never want to sell us drugs alongside cars, wine, cheese etc. That EU trade surplus with us is looking less and less pretty.

  14. AndyC
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Labour’s whole position on drug pricing suggests that either they don’t begin to understand the way the system works or, more likely in a few cases at least, they are deliberately attempting to spread fear and anxiety among patients who, quite understandably, don’t know how the system works.

    With regard to older generic drugs, Labour, probably by accident, has half a point. Generic drugs are prone to price and supply fluctuations as companies enter and leave the market. But that doesn’t apply to new, patented medicines. The UK patent system is already at least as strong as that in the US, so it’s hard to see why terms would be extended. Where NICE deems a drug too expensive, it can and does negotiate that price down – hence civil servants’ conversations with the ‘evil’ US drug industry. And indeed the European/Japanese drug industry which behaves no differently. I’d like to see more openness in that procedure, but commercial confidentiality is the rule everywhere, not just the UK. What NICE does is no different to what Canada, France, Germany etc do (although the exact rules are different in each case, there’s no EU-wide system for example), and indeed no different to what the US government does when negotiating prices for its own Federal programs. That’s not going to change.

  15. Leaver
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Dear John,

    I’m not sure that an FTA with the U.S would mean removing all tariffs on all products. Indeed I believe this would go down very badly with farmers.

    So, indeed, you might get a situation where the U.S say, ‘okay, you can keep tariffs for farmers’ but in return we want you to pay U.S prices for drugs. This type of agreement would lead to higher drugs prices.

    • Zorro
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      We clearly wouldn’t agree to that, where would the increased trade/business benefit be for the UK?


  16. ChrisS
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Yesterday morning on the Today Programme the Labour spokesman on the NHS was taken to task ( yes, really) on Labour’s record during election campaigns of making up scare stories about the NHS. He could not be made to respond properly to Milliband’s assertion that patients would have to pay for some services if the Conservatives won the election when he was leader. Of course it never happened.

    The scare about drug prices is just another attempt to smear the Conservative Party and the idea of a UK/US trade deal. Why would any Government, even one as inept as one led by Corbyn, even contemplate agreeing to add any extra costs to the NHS budget, let alone £500m a week just to secure a trade deal. Ridiculous.

  17. bill brown
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Sir JR

    A trade deal with the US that will not involve supplies and services to the NHS will not happen and it a rather naïve assumption

    • Zorro
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Who is saying that? They will have access, but their profit will be on volume, and increased charges for drugs.


      • graham1946
        Posted November 6, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink


        They are quick to jump on unsubstantiated claims, but not so quick to answer logical questions. Don’t expect a reasoned reply any time soon as it is just a made up ‘fact’.

  18. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    One has to ask does the government have a clue over anything anymore? We can see more and more drivel coming from people who have recently been educated in universities where the mind is controlled and not always in a good way. No wonder people can’t be bothered to vote.

  19. agricola
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Not only that, if the USA wishes to sell us drugs or anything else for that matter they must compete with current sources and any new sources on quality and price while always being aware that any contract is up for renewal at it’s end date.

    Incidentally if Corbyn is intent on making the NHS self contained and innoculated against the private sector how does he plan to get any drugs, hypodermics, or MRI scanners. All the above will be covered by patents. His intent is not only intellectually vapid, but to the disadvantage of every person that becomes a patient of the NHS.

    • graham1946
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      It doesn’t have to be true. For the hard of thinking, being told by Labour for whom they have voted all their lives and their parents before them and their grandparents also, is sufficient. This is why Boris needs a deal with the Brexit Party who may be able (possibly) to break the mould. Most of those constituencies would rather die in a ditch , to coin a phrase, than vote Tory. Even the five million Leave voters being betrayed by Labour are unlikely to vote for Boris or his dreadful non deal. A clean break promise might just do it.

      • bill brown
        Posted November 5, 2019 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Graham 1946

        the world is full of trade wars and building up of tariffs across many nations and we are about the lave the biggest free trading block in the world.
        Leaving without a deal as you are proposing would not only be silly ,it wold as we already know it might be even worse

        • dixie
          Posted November 6, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          Hans, the EU is not a free trading block.

          The EU is not the biggest trading area, for example China is 2.5 times bigger in terms of population and opportunities

          Leaving without a deal might even be better for the UK, you do not know and have no proof otherwise. It comes down in part to what people are prepared to work towards – I am motivated to help the UK succeed but have no motivation to help the EU, or any other area, succeed at our expense.

        • graham1946
          Posted November 6, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink


          1) It is not free trade – we pay hugely for it. Canada has free trade with the EU, we do not. We also submit our Parliament to their laws, they do not.
          2) It is not the largest bloc in the world. It may be by number of people, but what of prosperity and ability to buy? Most of the EU states are takers of subsidies because they are poor. Maybe if you could see this then you could see why we are in deficit to the EU whereas we are in profit with the US without a trade deal?

        • libertarian
          Posted November 6, 2019 at 8:49 pm | Permalink



          The EU is NOT a free trade zone. it is an internal market, customs union with Common External Tariffs

          Its business basics 101

  20. Gareth Warren
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The FTA’s after brexit are the most exciting early advantage, here I would prefer tariffs and WTO deal with the EU if we got quickly free trade with countries such as the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South africa, Japan and much of the world.

    • Zorro
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, and particularly with thge Far East as that is where the volume growth in trade is… unlike the EU whose market share is rapidly shrinking.


  21. Simeon
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The government have certainly said the NHS is not at risk, but voters have real difficulty believing them. I would suggest this has much to do with the gap (chasm?) between what the government says and what it does.

    Of course it doesn’t make sense to sign an FTA that is not to your nation’s advantage. But the difficulty (intractable problem?) is that this government is trying to sell a deal with the EU that is not to our nation’s advantage. If this government is happy to prostrate itself before the EU, why wouldn’t it also be willing to do the same for the US?

  22. Pominoz
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Sir John,

    More anti Brexit propaganda to try to thwart a ‘proper’ Brexit. An FTA with the USA can only bring down drug prices. If they want to charge more, then stick to existing sources.

    Those treasonous embedded EU agents in the Establishment and Parliament are now so desperate. Their days of treachery are now numbered.

    • Zorro
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Your last paragraph is the crux of the matter and makes me sick to the stomach, along with British people who paint and wrap themselves in that blue and gold starred flag….


    • Ian terry
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 6:07 pm | Permalink


      Their days of treachery are now numbered.

      I sincerely hope you are not holding your breath on that one.

  23. Richard1
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    The BBC’s ‘fact checkers’ on this have been absurd. they have said on average per person in the US expenditure on medicines is 2.5x what it is in the UK, so maybe thats £500m extra cost for the NHS per week if theres an FTA with the US. it is a ludicrous assertion. the NHS should seek to source drugs and equipment from whichever are the best and cheapest suppliers globally. to the extent there are FTAs which remove tariffs that will overall reduce costs. This needs to be countered strongly, we cannot rely on media outlets like the BBC to report this accurately nor to question the lies coming out from Corbyn and his crew.

    • graham1946
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      The NHS is probably the largest single buyer of drugs in the world. The USA do not have a national health service so it is obvious that our NHS will get better prices than individual hospitals, doctors and pharmacies in the USA. The drugs companies know this and take the (already overpriced) prices they have from the NHS. There is no reason in the world why we should pay more. We already limit drugs by price so the drugs companies would make lower sales, which would increase their unit costs for the rest of the world, not something they would do, I submit.

  24. Richard1
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    So militant leftists in the unions are going to seek to rig the election by going on strike so as to disrupt postal voting, as they think more Tories vote by post. It is a pointer to how life would be under Corbyn and the Marxists, but also another reminder that there are political extremists in our midst who have contempt for democracy, and will happily use mob action to subvert our way of life.

    Can postal voting be outsourced to another supplier? as ever the problem is a unionised monopoly. Even 30 years after Mrs Thatcher, militant unions remain a threat to our prosperity and to democracy.

  25. Mike Wilson
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    If we have a FTA with the USA – there is no guarantee we will have one with the EU. Tariffs on drugs from the EU may be imposed – so prices would go up. Drugs are already a farcical amount of money. Especially illegal ones.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Illegal ones should be taxed like tobacco and beer once legalised.

      Is that really going to stop crime as senior police officers tell us ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      So who would be imposing the tariffs on drugs from the EU, or for that matter on drugs imported from anywhere else? Would that be another Prime Minister like the diabetic Theresa May, who kept quiet and allowed the public to believe that she would order our customs officers to hold up imports of the insulin with which she had to inject herself four times a day? And what would happen to the money that the government had extracted through import taxes on medicines, would it be given to the NHS so it could pay the higher drug prices? Are we really going to have to put up with this kind of twaddle for the next five weeks? I am seriously considering leaving the country until it is all over, just to get away from the floods of rubbish from all sides.

    • BillM
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      No. As a free Nation we shall be able to buy from whoever we wish AND at the most competitive of prices. Most of the big Pharmas across the globe will want a slice of the UK business and they will cut prices to do so. It is common business practice and consumers commonsense to so buy.
      I think you miss the point that we, as a free Nation, will no longer have to buy from EU sources as their protectionist policies with excessive tariff levies, render any opposition noncompetitive. Our new suppliers will come from the whole world and at our new negotiated lower prices.
      We imported from the EU in 2018, £357 Billions worth of products – 53% of all Exports.
      If you worry about our trade with the EU what do you think our freedom to buy anywhere will do to their UK exports? They will have no choice but cut their prices or lose our business. Do not worry, more competition drives down prices. You should know that from your own experience when out

    • sm
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      I wonder what EU pharmaceutical companies will think if Brussels stops or seriously hinders their access to nearly 80 million potential patients?

      I wonder what US pharmaceutical companies will think, should they elevate their prices, if the NHS reacts by taking heed of recent studies that say that many patients are being over-prescribed, and that too many of the elderly are being prescribed statins?

      • tim
        Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        sm- yes a good point. Recently visited Doctors. They asked me, what I was on? My reply Nothing! Doctors, oh we will get you on this, and this. My reply … no thank you. Most doctors are a bit like drug dealers, with bonouses from the drug companies,getting people addicted to prescription drugs.

        • Brigham
          Posted November 5, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          tim, I suppose you will turn down the iv antibiotics when you get sepsis.

  26. Original Richard
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    No UK PM/party, accountable to the UK electorate, would dare sell/trade away our NHS to US corporates. They would be out of office at the next election.

    On the other hand, if we were to remain full members of the EU, or become an associate member by joining its CU, it is perfectly feasible that the EU would be prepared to trade away our NHS in order to get cheaper tariffs on German cars and French food and wine.

    It could do this with impunity as they are unelected and un-removable by the UK electorate.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 6, 2019 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      The thing that makes me laugh is the total lack of understand what the NHS is even

      Lets say you did want to sell the NHS , what would you actually put up for sale?

      1) There are 151 separate NHS Foundation Trusts

      NHS Foundation Trusts are established in law with a bespoke form of public ownership as independent Public Benefit Corporations. This means far greater local ownership and involvement of patients, the public and staff rather than control from the Department of Health.

      2) Therefore separate negotiation with each Trust would be necessary

      3) What would they get if they bought a trust ? Not much actually there are less than 1200 NHS hospitals in UK the vast majority funded by PFI so not available to be sold

      4) There are 7454 GP practices in the UK all of them privately owned and run

      There basically isn’t anything to sell , what they mean is privatisation which is completely different to selling the NHS . Privatisation involves contracting out. So things like cleaning services, grounds and facilities maintenance , some clinical services etc. Outsourcing has been done since the NHS was first formed

      The NHS is up for sale is blatant nonsense

  27. Bob
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    The BBC are anti Trump anti Brexit and pro Greta Thunberg.
    It spins all of it’s output accordingly.

  28. Martinez
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    It will be nothing to do about tariffs and a FTA- the US pharmas will insist prices go up to US levels they are in the business of making profits and without EU protection we are on our own

    • Richard1
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Pls explain how that works. the NHS sources from around the world. why will it start to pay higher prices than now when the only thing which has changed is there are no UK-US tariffs? What has the EU to do with NHS procurement? you are simply posting nonsense, albeit Corbyn and Co are saying much the same.

      People seem to have great difficulty understanding what an FTA is – it simply removes impediments to trade such as tariffs. it doesn’t mandate that such a person or organisation will buy services or goods from such and such a source at a specified price.

      • Zorro
        Posted November 5, 2019 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        Martinez exudes the cognitive dissonance of someone who might think that we have a free trade agreement with the EU, when actually we are being forced to buy EU products because of the draconian CET!


        • libertarian
          Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink


          Great post, I couldn’t understand why all these zealots dont understand what trade and FTA’s are. Youre right they have been hoodwinked by the EU sm and cu

    • Bob
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


      You clearly don’t understand how free markets work.
      Boots will buy medical supplies from UK manufacturers, EU manufacturers or manufacturers from elsewhere, depending on which offer the best value for money. Same goes for the NHS.

    • Robert Mcdonald
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      If we dont like the product or the pricewe buyfrom a supplier that meets our needs .. its called the marker … not the marxist.

    • AndyC
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Canada isn’t in the EU, has an FTA with the US, and doesn’t pay US drug prices.

      So I’d contend your post has no foundation in reality. Nowhere in the world outside the US pays US prices, and that’s not going to change.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:26 pm | Permalink


      Sorry, that is ignorant nonsense . I cant even be bothered to explain the basics of business any more .

  29. BillM
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    It’s not just bizarre it demonstrates the height of ignorance in such matters.
    Why are the Remainers always trying to denigrate everything that a true Brexit will bring? Even when it is to the benefit of all people of the UK whatever their financial status.
    What is the matter with these die-hards who refuse to accept democracy?

  30. William Long
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    The word ‘Free’ is anathema to a certain group of people, the ones who think it is good to be highly taxed, and the money wasted rather than for the money’s owners to be able to spend it how they want, the ones who think it is better to be governed by someone else who is not accountable to those they govern and the list goes on and on in this vein. Let us just hope that they do not control the new Government when it comes.

  31. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Of course it’s a load of anti-American nonsense.

    But then it was also nonsense back in 2013 when David Cameron tried to bolster support for the EU but claiming that TTIP, the proposed EU-US trade deal, would “turbo-charge the transatlantic economy” and “create two million new jobs”, and tacitly allowing it to be assumed that those putative new jobs would all be in the UK:

    “I’m struck by the economic insignificance of the planned EU-US trade deal …”

    And it is still nonsense now when Boris Johnson talks up the prospects of the UK making lucrative new trade deals around the world, especially with the US:

    “Perhaps one day the Tory party will wake up and recognise that even if free trade was a significant engine of prosperity and progress in the past we seem to have now reached a point of diminishing returns, and stop grossly overstating the importance of special trade deals to our economy – whether that be the EU Single Market arrangement or some new trade deal with the USA.”

    Oh, and it is also nonsense when the so-called “”Liberal Democrats” promise a “Remain Bonus” of £50 billion over five years if we do as they want and simply ignore the biggest democratic exercise we have ever seen in this country and stay in the EU, but even if it was not actually nonsense it would still be no more than marginal given that £10 billion is around 0.5% of UK GDP, which has a trend growth rate of 2.5% a year.

  32. stred
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I have been trying to find out who is being economical with the truth about whether the UK will be able to do trade deals with other countries after Boris signs his May-5% deal.
    Trump and Farage say not. Boris says we will. The Brexit Party Brexcast lawyer says we can set our own tariffs but not non-tariffs, so unlikely. Some say that the Political Declaration restricts our ability to adjust taxes and tariffs even if we manage to get a deal done after 1,2,3.. years. Martin Howe now writes that we can’t diverge and will have to follow their laws until we leave but their court will decide forever, but that we ought to give up and let Boris sign. I am feeling rather unreal. It’s like a strange Kafka dream that will never end.
    Could JR give his opinion please?

  33. Al
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    If the US forces drugs to be purchased at a regional rather than nationally negotiated level then prices could well go up.
    The US could legitimately argue for this on the basis that the NHS being a monopoly purchaser has an unfair advantage.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:24 pm | Permalink


      Lol…. No wonder people fall for the single market customs union hype. This is NOT how a FTA works , IT IS NOT how products are bought and sold

  34. kzb
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I too was puzzled by this question. However, the concern seems to be that, under the terms of a US/UK FTA, we would be tied into buying from the US supplier at their prices for the branded drug. We won’t be allowed to buy the generic version.
    Can you guarantee this won’t be the case?

    • libertarian
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink


      Oh my word, people will believe anything that lefties put out

      A FREE trade agreement isn’t FREE if there are certain products one MUST buy so you wouldn’t sign it . FTA’s aren’t about products they are about regulatory alignment and tariffs

  35. Wow!
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Why do Labour say the NHS is nationalised? What exactly in the NHS is not private?
    The doctors at least GPs are self-employed business people. The GP staff are paid by the GP businessman(?) The whole structure of the building, electrical and gas and water facilities made by private companies and maintained by them. The internal decor is done by private enterprise. All the contraptions, apparatus and machines are built and installed by private companies down to the smallest bandage and sticking plaster . All the drugs, medicines and stationery, computers are private company supplied and made. Their uniforms are private enterprise, the hairstyles of staff are done privately and facial hair razors. Even their white teeth are brushed with private company toothpaste.So do MPs own the bare bodies of nurses? They are lucky.

    • Mark B
      Posted November 7, 2019 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      It is publically funded and is FREE AT THE POINT OF USE FOR EVERYONE !!

      And when I say EVERYONE, I mean EVERYONE !!!

  36. Everhopeful
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    My comments are disappearing.
    Someone else reported this too.
    Maybe just not wanted any more?
    No more blog now??

    • Mark B
      Posted November 7, 2019 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Never give up ! Keep complaining.

  37. Mick
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    What a bizarre idea that if we gave a Free Trade agreement with the USA drug prices will go up
    This is project fear MK4 put about by the labour/libs/greens/snp/Plaid Cymru party’s and it’s going to get even more farcical, today Corbyn was preaching his usual garbage to the easily lead crowd saying he would negotiate a deal which would include staying in a custom union and a single market so effectively not leaving the Eu and then saying he would put the deal to a referendum stating on the ballot paper it’s this negotiated deal or remain no bloody mention of leaving with no deal on the ballot paper, hopefully the public will see through the lies and deceit and return a Tory government with a huge majority because no matter what Mr Farage says if we have left the Eu that’s good enough for me because myself like millions more don’t give a fig about the legal bits so long as we are seen to have left

    • prigger jnr
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      Many NHS staff are massively overpaid.
      How could it be otherwise when parties are in a race to chuck as much money as possible at what is a problem, for electoral advantage?
      What need have they for a trade union?

  38. mancunius
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    When Mrs Thatcher announced ‘The National Health Service is safe in our hands!’, I used mine to clutch my head in frustration. If there was and is one thing that needs Thatcherite reform, it’s the NHS, that enriches big pharma, the doctors and the BMA, treats all and sundry at the expense of the younger taxpayers, and rewards self-inflicted maladies, both physical and (now big-time) mental.
    The NHS needs reconstruction as a network of contributory insurance schemes. The current ‘system’ does the opposite of its claim – far from promoting social solidarity, it rather threatens its very survival.

    • Derek Henry
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Sorry but that is complete and utter nonsense.

      Especially the taxpayers bit.

      Alas, this is what happens when you believe we are still on the gold stsndard.

  39. kzb
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    From what I can make out, the US patent system ensures drug monopolies for US Pharma. In USA they are not allowed to access generic drugs in the same way we are. Countries accessing cheaper generic drugs are called “foreign freeloaders” in the US.
    The concern must be that the US-UK FTA will have this as one of its conditions.

    • AndyC
      Posted November 6, 2019 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      This isn’t quite right. The US does make extensive use of generics, certainly since the Hatch-Waxman Act of 1984 which created a system for their regulation. Branded drug companies try all sorts of tricks to extend patent terms and discourage generic use, but they do that globally, not just in the US. There is no block on generic use in the US, which probably makes more use of generics than many European countries.

      The ‘freeloading’ criticism refers more to newer branded drugs under patent which have no legal generic equivalent. In a well-regulated country such as the UK, therefore, no exact generic equivalent is available to these drugs. (different, older drugs may do the job equally well, but that’s another argument). In the US, the prices of branded drugs are largely left to the market to set, whereas everywhere else in the developed world controls prices to some extent. Hence US patients do pay more for these. That’s undeniable, although the level of discounting that goes on in the US mkes it difficult to quantify.

      Bottom line, no FTA is going to prevent legitimate generic use.

  40. HarveyG
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    A trade deal with the US yes! but it won’t be free- we will pay and pay and pay

  41. tim
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Why is it that I can buy prescription medicines in Spain without a prescription for much less than it costs in the UK. Why do I have to have health insurance to access healthcare in Spain or any where else in EU, but any one in the world can access healthcare for free in the UK?

    • Mark B
      Posted November 7, 2019 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Because those that should be managing the shop are outback selling all your gear to the lowest bidder.


  42. Javelin
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Saw Starmer on the BBC Breakfast saying “Competition will increase prices”. BBC didnt pick him up on it.

    Presumably the BBC presenters don’t understand basic economics either.

  43. Derek Henry
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Doctors and nurses do not appear out of the pavement by majic.

    It takes years to become both. If you just throw money at it, guess what you get inflation.

    Once again you have to make sure there are enough skills and real resources to absorb the extra spending. Why on earth do you think a third of the money going to the police is being held back for recruitment ?


    Because if you do not have the skills or the real resources it just pushes prices up and then you have to raise taxes instead of cutting them.

    It is not rocket science.The only way that these sorts of debates will progress, however, is to take them out of the fiscal policy realm where they are largely inapplicable and start talking about rights and what different interpretations of these rights concepts have for real resources allocations and redistributions.

    For example is it right that private healthcare uses up both the skills and real resources that the NHS needs ? Just so rich people can jump the cue.

    Taxation can help the government redistribute resources in that regard by depriving private spending into areas where resources need to be freed for other (more desirable) purposes.

    The idea that the public fiscal position has to ‘seek savings’ to make fund future spending (on health care and other programs) is a fundamental misconception of our current monetary system.

    This misconception has been driving the so-called intergenerational debate where governments are being pressured to run surpluses to pay for the retirement of baby boomers and the growing healthcare costs for them as they age further.

    Government surpluses do not create a cache of money that can be spent later. Currency-issuing governments spend by crediting bank accounts. There is no revenue constraint on this act unless the key breaks on a computer keyboard.

    Additionally, taxation consists of debiting a bank account. The funds debited are ‘accounted for’ but don’t actually ‘go anywhere’ nor ‘accumulate anywhere’. There is no HUGE shed in the Isle Of Wight that holds our taxes for future use.

    In fact, the pursuit of fiscal surpluses by a sovereign government as a means of accumulating ‘future public spending capacity’ is not only without standing but also likely to undermine the capacity of the economy to provide the real resources and skils that may be necessary in the future to provide real goods and services of a particular composition desirable to an ageing or sick population.

    A no deal brexit gives us all that oppertunity. Why ?

    Because like import substitution we can train our own Doctors and nurses and police and engineers and stop stealing them from other nations leaving those nations worse off.

    • Derek Henry
      Posted November 5, 2019 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      The IFS and OBR do not help either with their gold standard, fixed exchange rate self imposed constraints.

      That will no longer apply once we have left the EU. Their neoliberal fiscal rules.

    • Fred H
      Posted November 6, 2019 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      Derek – – ‘For example is it right that private healthcare uses up both the skills and real resources that the NHS needs ? Just so rich people can jump the cue(sic).
      In most specialisms the consultant/surgeon etc works for both the NHS and an Independent Hospital. The NHS queue may prove to be quite a problem for people and business, but paying privately or via health insurance enables a faster solution. It does not mean you are rich. If the NHS contract did not allow this dual role, a large number of excellent consultants would only work in private practice, and the point you tried to make would become true.

  44. rose
    Posted November 6, 2019 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    This artificial row about JRM was presumably got up by James O’Brien to induce the Conservatives to remove him from the campaign. I do hope they aren’t so foolish as to oblige. He said nothing offensive. On the contrary, he was full of heartfelt Christian compassion. His words have been twisted and distorted, with meanings attached that weren’t there. O’Brien did the same thing to the PM when he appeared on Ferrari. It is the mark of a successful politician when this happens, and it must be stood up to, or we will be back with people like Mrs May and Gavin Barwell running the country.

  45. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 6, 2019 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    My ideal is that all tariffs should be zero except from countries running a dirty economy and to counter dumping (defined as loss making exports).

    A challenge to you, Sir John: Devise WTO rules to give effect to such a policy.

    • kzb
      Posted November 6, 2019 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      This drugs price issue was never about import tariffs. I believe it is about being tied to US drug patent law in the US Trade Deal. This would prevent us from buying the much cheaper generic drugs. No-one on here has addressed this question one way or the other.

      Reply Why would we sign up to that? Generics anyway usually are drugs that compete with patented drugs whose patent has expired.

      • kzb
        Posted November 6, 2019 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Apparently US pharmaceutical patents have a much longer expiry date that the rest of the world. Why are we called “foreign freeloaders” by the US? I am no expert, I am just after definitive facts, which no-one is supplying. Can you absolutely deny that the US side will not demand we are tied to expensive US drug suppliers?

        • libertarian
          Posted November 6, 2019 at 8:43 pm | Permalink



          FTAs DO NOT stipulate individual products

          If you knew the first thing about trade or pharma or business you would know that

        • AndyC
          Posted November 7, 2019 at 11:42 am | Permalink

          No, they don’t. The developed world has a standard 20 year patent term. Whoever told you any different is either lying or ignorant.

          The precise dates of patent expiry vary slightly depending on when they were filed around the world. The system is complex, I’ll grant you, and various patent extensions are available in both the US and EU, but the basic 20 year term holds good everywhere.

          • kzb
            Posted November 7, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            So maybe the problem is that US Pharma has been granted extensions on its patents within the US market, and they want us to observe these patent extensions as conditions in the free trade deal ?

      • libertarian
        Posted November 6, 2019 at 8:44 pm | Permalink


        Ignorance of the highest order, unless its an illegal drug, generic drugs become available once a patent has expired

        • kzb
          Posted November 7, 2019 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          I’m just asking, I freely admit I am puzzled. However you have not answered my question. It was not about “individual products”. On your second comment, I say again that, reportedly, US patents on drugs have a much longer expiry date. In the US the patent laws prevent them from buying cheaper generic drugs that are available to the NHS. This is what we are told, so please address this specific point if you are such an expert.

  46. Hmmm?
    Posted November 6, 2019 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    Bets are on! Who bets the next base rate decision by the Independent BOE and Mr Carney, (has he returned to Canada yet?) on 7 November, 2019, will be NO CHANGE and coincide exactly…. the stand out alone decision of the Bank of Canada to keep things as they are?

  47. MikeP
    Posted November 6, 2019 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I’m arriving a bit late on this one but must point out that the new Withdrawal Agreement, were we to sign and implement it, contains a reference to VAT rates having to remain under the present EU rules for 5 years after the end of the “Transition” period. That doesn’t sound like it gives us any freedom before Dec 2025 (or later) to reduce VAT on the green energy equipment or hygiene products that you’ve highlighted in the past Sir John?

  48. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 7, 2019 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that the Trump administration, on behalf of its pharmaceutical companies, want us to accept that US drug patents should last a long time. I’m happy enough that innovators should enjoy a period of strong profits but 5 years is enough time. After that, patents should cease and generic copy drugs could be bought.

    We have NICE, a valuable institution which determines whether any particular drug constitutes value for money. Unfortunately, our benighted courts have taken to ruling that NICE MAY authorise a particular drug for use by the NHS – and we all know what ‘MAY’ means. This has undermined the authority of the Secretary of State for Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    I’m delighted that sufferers from cystic fibrosis may now be treated on the NHS. But nobody has said what will be cut so that the new drug may be afforded within the NHS budget.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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