Monthly Archives: January 2017

Trump’s administration has a new target on trade — and it’s not China or Mexico

By Ana Swanson

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Volker Hartmann/Getty Images)

President Trump’s top trade adviser said Germany was using a “grossly undervalued” euro to “exploit” its trading partners in Europe and the U.S., comments that triggered a spike in the euro’s value to a one-week high.

In comments to the Financial Times, Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s National Trade Council and an architect of many of the administration’s trade policies, also declared a proposed trade agreement between the United States and Europe to be dead, citing Germany’s currency as an impediment.

Trump’s tough campaign rhetoric regarding trade has long fueled speculation of tensions with China and Mexico, countries that export large volumes of cheap goods to the United States. But Navarro’s aggressive statements against Germany and the European Union appear to have taken markets and European leaders by surprise.

Navarro’s comments appear to reflect a deep antipathy on the part of the Trump administration to multilateral trade deals and institutions, an attitude that has unsettled U.S. allies in Europe and around the globe in recent weeks.

On Jan. 23, his first full day in office, Trump declared his intention to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama-era trade deal that Trump claimed would kill American manufacturing jobs. During the campaign, Trump also announced his intention to renegotiate the U.S. free trade deal with Canada and Mexico, and called the primary military alliance between Europe and the U.S. “obsolete.”

In his comments, Navarro cited Germany as a main obstacle to a proposed U.S.-E.U. trade deal called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. “A big obstacle to viewing TTIP as a bilateral deal is Germany, which continues to exploit other countries in the E.U. as well as the U.S. with an ‘implicit Deutsche Mark’ that is grossly undervalued,” he said.

Angela Merkel responded Tuesday by …read more

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Diabetes patients sue insulin makers for ‘pricing fraud’

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

Laura Marston holds up a vial of Humalog, a type of insulin she takes for type 1 diabetes at her home in Washington, D.C. When she was first diagnosed at 14, the list price for the drug was $21 per vial. Now it's list price is more than $250 for a vial. (Jorge Ribas, The Washington Post)

Laura Marston holds up a vial of Humalog, a type of insulin she takes for Type 1 diabetes at her home in Washington, D.C. When she was first diagnosed at 14, the list price for the drug was $21 per vial. Now it’s list price is more than $250 for a vial. (Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

A group of diabetes patients filed a lawsuit Monday against three drug companies for systematically increasing the list prices of insulin for years in an alleged fraudulent-pricing scheme that saddled patients with “crushing out-of-pocket expenses,” according to the filing.

The insulin market is dominated by an oligopoly of companies that sell many billions of dollars worth of insulin each year — and have steadily raised the list prices of their drugs. A version of insulin called Humalog launched two decades ago with a sticker price of $21 a vial and has increased to $255 a vial.

Meanwhile, competition has appeared to work in a perverse way, with list prices of competing insulins often rising in concert. Last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) asked for a federal investigation into “possible collusion” on insulin prices.


[Why treating diabetes keeps getting more expensive]

The lawsuit, filed by 11 patients in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, focuses on a common practice in the pharmaceutical industry: Drug companies compete for insurers’ business by offering secret rebates on their drugs. Companies that negotiate drug prices for insurers, called pharmacy benefit managers, can place drugs on tiers that determine how much consumers pay for them — decisions that may be influenced by the size of the discount granted by the drug companies.

The lawsuit claims that drug companies have been increasing the list price of insulin in order to …read more

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