A UK trade minister held a meeting with a US drugs giant last year, where they discussed “future trade” deals post-Brexit.
The revelation backs the Labour party’s claim the Tories will sell off the National Health Service to Donald Trump and American corporations.
Evidence of the talks, which took place in August 2018, were revealed in minutes of the meeting, obtained under Freedom of Information law by campaign group Global Justice Now.
The documents say the objectives of the meeting were “to understand Lilly’s footprint in the UK, trade and investment issues”, and to offer “reassurance to Lilly around Brexit ”.
In a TV debate last week, Jeremy Corbyn told PM Boris Johnson , “You are going to sell our National Health Service to the US and big pharma”.
Mr Johnson has denied the NHS will be part of any post-Brexit trade deal with the US. But in June US President Trump said: “Everything with a trade deal is on the table. So NHS... will be on the table, absolutely.”
Mr Trump has said higher drug pricing is a priority in all trade deals. At the US-UK meeting, Mr Reid said intellectual property protection is “key” .
Andrew Hill, a drug pricing expert and adviser to the World Health Organization, said he believes this is the first “concrete evidence” of talks about drug prices between US pharma and the Tory Government.
Dr Hill says: “For Eli Lilly, intellectual property protection is very important. They’re looking for longer patents.
"While a drug is on patent you charge a higher price for it. That’s part of previous trade agreements between the US and other countries.”
Today, Global Justice Now releases a report entitled Pharma Trade Secrets: The Truth About a Trade Deal with Trump.
It warns: “The US pharmaceutical industry is lobbying hard to ensure a US-UK trade deal strengthens rules that keep prices high, as well as to attack the regulations that control price.”
Lilly, along with two other firms, manufactures 96% of the world’s insulin.
Lilly charges £230 per vial of its Humalog insulin. The NHS pays £16.61 per vial, as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, regulates drugs prices in the UK.