Letter to the Editor: Concerned with USMCA and Big Pharma

To the Editor:

Senator Joni Ernst has stated that she is prioritizing lowering prescription drug costs for Iowans. She is also an ardent supporter of USMCA and has stated that Iowans need this legislation. In supporting both bills, Ernst has put herself in quite a conundrum.

The USMCA would protect pharmaceutical companies from generic competition. At issue is a section of the USMCA that would protect pharmaceutical companies with new biologics from generic competition, so-called “biosimilars.” Those most likely to be affected are receiving treatment for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Even though only two percent of patients in the U.S. use biologic medicines, they represent 40 percent of the total prescribed drug expenditure.

The USMCA, under Article 20 F. 14, would grant at least a 10-year “test data” exclusivity period for new biologics. Currently, Canada has an eight-year test data exclusivity period and Mexico has a five-year limit, so the USMCA would force both countries to increase this period.

The USMCA is simply the latest example of Big Pharma using trade agreements to boost profits and another example of Senator Joni Ernst representing her donors and failing to look out for the best interests of Iowans.

As a nurse, I continue to find Senator Ernst’s stand with Big Pharma concerning. I believe all who need healthcare and prescription drugs should be able to afford this care without establishing a “Go Fund Me Campaign” in order to get the care needed.

If you are currently using any prescription medications I would encourage you to contact Senator Ernst’s office and voice your concerns as well. Phone: 202-224-3254 or email: https://www.ernst.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/make-em-squeal-email_2

Warmest Regards,

Lori R. Egan, RN, BSN


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