The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said it has requested the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to designate four countries, including Korea, as priority foreign countries (PFC).
The request is to deal with these countries alleged restrictions on intellectual property right protections and market accesses, it said
PhRMA is a trade group representing companies in the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S., and its primary goal is to conduct effective advocacy for public policies that encourage the discovery of essential, new medicines by biopharmaceutical research companies.
The group asked the trade representative to reflect their requests on the annual Special 301 Report. The report identifies countries that do not provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights or fair and equitable market access to U.S. companies that rely upon such rights. The other three countries affected by the move are Canada, Japan and Malaysia.
After designating a country as a PFC, the USTR must decide whether to commence an investigation within 30 days of the designation. The must conclude within six months of launching it and decide whether to remove the country from the PFC list or take strong retaliatory steps against it.
"When foreign countries impose trade barriers and fail to value new inventions, they threaten U.S. manufacturing and jobs," said Brian Toohey, PhRMA senior vice president for international advocacy. "Damaging price controls in Canada, Japan, Korea and many other countries are jeopardizing American exports and limiting access to new medicines."
Regarding Korea, the group noted that following new commitments made during the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) renegotiation, Korea has continued to devalue innovative medicines developed by U.S. companies severely, contrary to its obligations and the spirit of the renegotiation.
"American patients should not have to shoulder the burden of paying for global innovation," Toohey said. "The United States must use all available tools in negotiations with foreign countries to open overseas markets and level the playing field for American biopharmaceutical innovators and the 4.7 million jobs they support across the country.”
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was a significant step forward in raising standards across North America. PhRMA encourages USTR to accomplish similar goals during upcoming international negotiations, he added.