11 March 2004

Drug costs will rise with deal: US official

Under intense pressure on rising drug costs at home, an influential Republican senator told the committee that the Australian deal was a "breakthrough" that began the process of getting other countries to bear a greater share of drug company research and development costs.

"One of the ways of addressing the causes [of high US prices] is to get the other countries of the world to help bear part of the burden of the R&D," said Senator Jon Kyl, who lobbied Australian ministers on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme last year. "So, my hat's off to your [Mr Zoellick's] team and the work that you did in at least beginning to address this with Australia."

Senator Kyl said the final agreement, released last week, was only the beginning of negotiations over Australia's pharmaceuticals system.

"We don't need to discuss it here, but I know that there is much more work that needs to be done in further discussions with the Australians."

Strangely I missed the government's announcement of the further negotiations on raising drug prices in Australia.

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