In the last months, the MedTech and Pharma industry have demonstrated an increasing interest in the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the trade agreement that, since July 2013, is being negotiated between the EU and the US.
There has been some debate in 2014 about whether healthcare should be included or excluded. However, in countries with insurance based systems the concern has been rather that further powers might be granted to industry vis-a-vis national governments and as such it will be more difficult to regulate markets for pubic benefit.
It is generally considered that TTIP would allow for significant economic benefit for the EU and the US, but due to the nature of negotiations very little information is available about the content of exchanged terms or negotiation talks. This has even been a concern raised within the larger individual country governments of EU Member States. It has been accepted in the last months that greater transparency is needed towards both national governments and the public as this secrecy has given rise to speculation about what the worst potential outcomes could be. This is especially important in policy fields where standards are considered to be widely different between the two.
Little specific is known about healthcare negotiations in TTIP, however it is clear that regulatory convergence could prove difficult considering that different healthcare systems and legislation exist and are already differing between each US state and each EU Member State. Despite both the White House and the European Commission pointing to significant potential economic benefit of TTIP, it may be that protectionism is a stumbling block to adoption. The US and EU are no strangers to trade disputes moderated by the WTO, which suggests a long road ahead.