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Amid treaty talks to create equitable access to medical products during pandemics, the European Union has proposed pricing language that may put the pharmaceutical industry and advocacy groups on a collision course.

In a proposal submitted earlier this week, the European Union suggested middle-income countries could pay so-called tiered pricing for drugs, vaccines, and other medical products needed during a pandemic. Tiered pricing refers to a range of prices based on different variables, and in this case would involve a country’s population, epidemiological situation, income level, and ability to pay.


The pharmaceutical industry has relied on tiered pricing to provide medicines to poor countries and sometimes, middle-income nations with limited resources but a large population in need of treatment. In doing so, drug companies attempted to appease critics who say that one-size-fits-all pricing can place medicines out of reach for too many people around the world. The approach also opens up new markets.

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