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US accepts South Korea’s new drug-pricing policy

Korea Times, Seoul

US Accepts South Korea’s New Drug-Pricing Policy

By Park Chung-a, Staff Reporter

11 August 2006

The United States has accepted South Korea’s new drug-pricing measure aimed at offering quality medicine at cheaper prices, brightening the future of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on pharmaceutical issues, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare yesterday.

Such agreement comes after 20 days since the South Korean government said the new drug-pricing policy would not discriminate against multi-national companies that have been claiming such system would cause steep drop in their revenues.

Consequently, the new measure will be effective within this year and the two countries will hold a meeting on Aug. 21 in Singapore to narrow gaps over other pharmaceutical issues regarding medical equipments and medicines before the third round of FTA talks scheduled for September in Seattle.

Under the new drug-pricing policy, the so-called ``positive list system,’’ better-priced and more effective medicines will be covered by the nation’s health insurance system, which will allow low-income people to get quality medicines at cheaper prices.

The second round of FTA talks was held in Seoul last month before being brought to an abrupt halt as the U.S. boycotted the negotiations in an apparent protest against the ``positive list system.’’ Since the break-up of the talks, the two sides have been seeking consensus on the issue through various channels.