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Jeremy Corbyn writes Trump letter asking for reassurance over NHS in trade deal

Published on 03/12/19 at 12:00pm

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to US President Donald Trump demanding he confirm that he will not put up drug prices in a UK-US post-Brexit trade deal.

Trump is in London this week for the start of the NATO meeting. In his letter, Corbyn said: “The potential impact of any future UK-US trade agreement on our National Health Service and other vital public services is of profound concern to the British public. A critical issue in this context is the cost of drugs to our NHS. The cost of patented drugs in the US is approximately 2.5 times higher than in the UK, and the price of the top 20 medicines is 4.8 times higher than in the UK.”

Corbyn added that “any increase in the NHS drugs bill would be an unacceptable outcome of US-UK trade negotiations.”

This letter follows more than 500 NHS doctors, nurses and other workers, also writing to Trump asking him to rule out “once and for all” the increases to drug prices or any trade deal that includes NHS contracts. They also said that “words on their own are not enough” and they want “new trade negotiating objectives that explicitly rule out any measure that will lead to change to our pharmaceutical patient and procurement regime”. The letter also asks for a commitment that new trade talks will not be held in secret.

Making the NHS a part of a post-Brexit trade deal is something Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party have constantly denied. However, today Dominic Raab has admitted the US will be able to ramp up the cost of drugs bought by the NHS after Brexit but insisted the prospect is “hugely unlikely”.

Last week Jeremy Corbyn also revealed secret government documents that showed the US had been pushing for a hard Brexit to deregulate the NHS and increase drug prices as part of a trade deal.

This followed a similar story which revealed a private meeting in 2018 between the representatives of the British government and a top executive at pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly. The corporation also wanted to charge higher prices for their drugs.

Conor Kavanagh

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