Clinton vs Trump: What will the next U.S. President’s political beliefs mean for healthcare?

20161021130000, Alexander Foo
Whoever wins, the next U.S President will have a strong influence on global health care costs.
Whoever wins, the next U.S President will have a strong influence on global health care costs.
The U.S. Presidential elections next month will seat either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump into one of the most powerful offices in the world, with the next POTUS having a strong influence on world health.

As such, twenty questions about mental health, space exploration, vaccinations, antibiotics, energy and climate change were submitted to the presidential candidates by to get their positions on these matters, as they will not get much air time during the debates.

While Clinton’s responses contained more detail compared to Trump's, both candidates had some similar common ground on most matters. The starkest contrast between both Clinton and Trump was on climate change.

What is their stance on vaccination innovation?

With the anti-vaccination movement threatening to bring back outbreaks of previously controlled diseases. Both Clinton and Trump share common ground in utilising vaccines to combat infectious diseases.

Clinton has said "Through vaccinations and vaccine science, I am committed to protecting our nation’s children, as well as populations worldwide, from infectious disease threats."

She believes that investment into vaccine research and development will help officials respond quickly with vaccinations for potential outbreaks across the world such as those seen with Ebola, Zika and MERS. She also believes that public education spending will also help reduce the total number of individuals whom are not vaccinated.

Meanwhile Trump stated, "We should educate the public on the values of a comprehensive vaccination program." but did not release details.

How will the next U.S. President affect the costs of medicines?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) became a contentious debate point early on the campaign trail. TPP is aimed at deepening the economic ties between 12 nations: U.S., Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. Within the agreement, drug manufacturers have been provided with eight years of market exclusivity over new biologics, which the companies have been pushing for.

Market exclusivity is granted from the first time a drug is given marketing approval by the nation’s drug regulator. This will prevent generic drug makers from producing cheaper follow on drugs even after patents have expired, driving up the cost of medication. Critics have stated that the duration of this market exclusivity will strain national health care budgets and keep possible life-saving medication out of reach for patients who cannot afford them.

Both Clinton and Trump are opposed to TPP in its current wording, in favour of a more beneficial agreement for U.S. workers.

Clinton's campaign chairman, Jon Podesta, had his email hacked and published by WikiLeaks, including a draft letter which states that "we should walk away if the final agreement doesn't meet the test of creating more jobs than it displaces, helping the middle class, and strengthening our national security". The authenticity of these emails has not been refuted by Clinton, whom initially supported TPP as the U.S. Secretary of State.

Trump has stated that "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attack on America's business." and he has been on record opposing the deal before he was a candidate.

Whether this opposition will equate to a new deal with market exclusivity for drugs is yet to be seen but based on the positions both candidates have taken, an increase in health care costs seems likely.

Global warming and loss of biodiversity to affect R&D?

New drug discovery programs utilise natural compounds to aid in drug development. Some new drugs already in the pipeline include cone snail and funnel web spider venom. Within these dangerous venoms lie specific compounds that when isolated are able to rapidly treat chronic pain and diabetes. The loss of global biodiversity would mean that potential new cures for diseases may never be found as flora and fauna become extinct due to human activity.

Clinton said that "When it comes to climate change, the science is crystal clear," accepting that it is due to human activity and intends to work towards making the U.S a global leader in clean renewable energy and address biodiversity loss both nationally and internationally.

Trump has casually stated, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." He believes that more investigation is required and has proposed that funds can be better spent elsewhere but did not focus on a specific area and intends to re-evaluate U.S. conservation efforts.

Whoever the next U.S. President will be will not only affect the price of medicines but also the pace of discovery programs that have been established. MIMS

Read more:
A year later, what impact has GST had on Malaysia's healthcare system?
Anti-vaxxer parents: How healthcare professionals can help change their minds
Nations and drug companies commit to fight antibiotic resistance after U.N. assembly
HITF suggests more transparency to prevent hikes in IPs and healthcare costs in Singapore