Trade in health products has been flourishing in recent years as the demand for better health has been growing throughout the world. At the same time, trade in health products is hampered by substantive trade barriers. Recent ADBI research shows that countries around the world still apply tariffs and nontariff measures that increase prices and limit the availability of health-related products such as pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and medical equipment. The case for liberalizing trade in these products is therefore strong. In addition, improving trade facilitation performance, using the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement as a starting point, can be linked to improved handling of health-related products such as vaccines which, in turn, boosts usage. Finally, studying the price differences for insulin across countries, ADBI researchers found that the price of insulin is lower for open trade regimes that ensure competition between providers. In summary, lowering trade barriers on health products can make a substantive contribution to building up health systems and lowering out-of-pocket payments of patients.
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Cheaper, Faster, Better Meds
Many illnesses can be prevented by modern medicines and vaccines.
However, countries are not doing all they can to get these life-saving drugs to their people.
ADB Institute has three smart things developing countries could do to make medicines cheaper and more effective.
Let medicine and health related products come into your country without any tariffs or taxes. It will be cheaper for the people who need it.
Do not delay the importation of medicine by keeping it in customs storehouses too long. Certain medicines, such as vaccines, get quickly spoiled when exposed to heat.
Try to actively promote competition among suppliers by importing from various sources, including generic medicines. It will lower costs and make the supply more resilient to shocks.
Let's keep the trade in medicine free of tariffs and delays to promote cheaper, faster, better meds for everyone.