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Trade agreement provision affecting drug prices could be a sticking point

Carole Jaquez displays a box of pills for her asthma and high blood pressure condition purchased in Canada at a 58.9% savings Oct. 12, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — A provision related to drug pricing control is proving to be a sticking point in the proposed trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Democrats in Congress, including Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett, recently sent a letter to the United States’ trade representative, asking to have a provision that would limit the ability to lower drug prices removed from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“It will limit the power of Congress to do something about prescription price gouging,” Doggett said, concerned that the provision will limit competition and protect companies’ monopolies, potentially leading to higher prices.

According to the Associated Press, drug companies argue that before generics enter the market, they need time to profit from their creations that they invested in and worked so hard to develop.

Doggett and other Democrats said they will vote to kill the deal if the provision remains. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said she won’t bring the deal up for a vote until all her concerns related to labor, the environment and enforcement are addressed.

Meanwhile, President Trump is pushing hard for the deal as he tours the country, and this hold up over the drug company provision could create a difficult situation. He can either get rid of the provision and risk having to renegotiate the deal, or he can keep it and risk it not passing in Congress.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is concerned there isn’t a lot of time to come to an agreement with the Democrats.

“Once it comes from the White House then it is on a 90-day fast track and it can’t be amended by Congress,” Cornyn said.