I had an opportunity to participate in the Stakeholders’ Event at the13th round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations that took place in New York City earlier this week. The negotiations had a more urgent tone, as President Obama and European leaders strive to finalize the agreement this year. With only months remaining in his presidency, President Obama is focused on solidifying his legacy with the ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and reaching an agreement with the EU on TTIP. Completing TTIP is important, but it is vital that any agreement reached provides the U.S. the strongest outcomes possible, to spur innovation and ensure the future health of the biopharmaceutical industry.
A robust agreement will remove barriers to innovation and allow the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry to thrive and develop the next generation of new medicines – not only benefiting millions of patients around the globe, but also contributing to economic growth for the EU and the U.S. For example in the U.S., the leader in global biopharmaceutical innovation, the sector is responsible for an overall economic contribution of more than $790 billion annually. With further investment resulting from a strong TTIP, the economic and societal impact of innovation in our sector is without bounds.
In addition to ensuring a sustainable future for the U.S. and EU biopharmaceutical sectors and encouraging innovation at home and abroad, a well-constructed TTIP agreement will provide enhanced patient access to new treatments that they urgently need. That’s why it’s imperative that the TTIP not be rushed in order to meet arbitrary deadlines that may put the United States at a disadvantage at the negotiating table and result in a weak agreement.
While the U.S. and the EU are aligned on the value of biopharmaceutical investment and innovation, as well as in their commitment to reach an agreement, there are some current EU policies that remain problematic, including in the areas of market access, regulatory harmonization, and intellectual property protection. Our negotiators must ensure that biopharmaceutical provisions in the TTIP enhance patient access, promote strong intellectual property protections, and speed-up approval of new medicines. TTIP provides a unique opportunity for our countries to address these issues in a collaborative way and set high standards for free trade. The Administration and the U.S. Trade Representative must stand strong to ensure a completed TTIP will be a valuable U.S. asset in our fight to improve the health of patients around the globe.