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12 May 2018, 12:53 | Katrina Lee
Trump is about to lay out his plans to lower drug prices — here's what to expect
But it does not include his campaign pledge to use the massive buying power of the government's Medicare program to directly negotiate lower prices for seniors. And it would require prescription drug plans for Medicare patients to pass on some of the discounts and rebates they receive from pharmaceutical companies. But the costs of R&D actually don't explain the elevated price of US drugs compared with the rest of the world.
Azar, in a briefing following the Rose Garden speech, acknowledged the plan is sweeping and would take years to implement.
"When foreign governments extort unreasonably low prices from USA drugmakers, Americans have to pay more to subsidize the enormous cost of research and development".
The President also noted he has directed officials to take actions to end what he termed "global freeloading", which he explained as lowered prices on drugs in other countries compared with the United States, where much of the investment funds for medical research originate.
The approach could also help people not on Medicare. Other proposals include speeding the process of switching prescription drugs to over-the-counter medicines. While overall drug spending has slowed over the past two years, it still makes up a large share of healthcare expenditures, about 10% in 2016, fueled by the rising price of specialty drugs.
Indeed, despite Trump's consistent rhetoric about pharmaceutical companies "getting away with murder", the administration hasn't taken action on drugmakers, which have so far largely benefited from his administration.
It's unclear what Trump meant, but Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb have targeted pricing and rebate practices between drugmakers, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers they say encourage higher list prices and more use of expensive medications. Nor does it allow Americans to buy lower-priced drugs from overseas. "The system doesn't make that work", he said.
- A potential requirement for drugmakers to disclose the cost of their medicines in television advertisements.
"This weak plan abandons the millions of hard-working families struggling with the crisis of surging drug prices", said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a statement.
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Almost three-quarters of registered voters said in a recent nationwide poll that they would be more likely to support a congressional candidate this fall who supports bringing down the cost of prescription medications. That trend, coupled with several high-profile cases where drug manufacturers significantly raised the price for common, decades-old drugs, have thrust the issue into the national spotlight.
A senior administration official, speaking on background, said that Trump will unveil an "American Patients First" blueprint that he called "the most comprehensive plan to tackle prescription drug affordability".
While Trump and Azar delivered tough remarks, it did little to scare the industry.
"There are no major surprises, it spares the pharmaceutical industry of the reform that they most vehemently oppose", a pharmaceutical lobbyist told BioPharma Dive in an interview following the Trump speech. "We do subsidize the world because we support the profits of pharmaceutical companies".
"Insurance providers share the savings from negotiations with drug manufacturers by lowering premiums and copays for all consumers", AHIP said in a statement. It would create unspecified incentives for lower list prices of drugs and would lower out-of-pocket spending by patients.
"Let's be really clear, the administration has put out a number of different sets of proposals under the heading of: Things that would address drug pricing". "That is a lot of time and effort, we likely won't see any of this happen for a very, very long time", said Edward John Allera, shareholder at law firm Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney. "Why? Because of the drug companies".
"If Medicare starts negotiating with prescription drug companies, there's gonna be cost cutting". But the president has offered nothing but "radio silence" since then, Cummings said Thursday.
"This is a total rip off, and we are ending it", Mr. Trump said Friday.
Democrats pounced on Trump for not pursuing direct Medicare negotiations, an idea he championed before reaching the White House. In the USA, this negotiation takes place many times over, as one drug maker has separate discussions with a range of benefits plans.
For the more ambitious proposals, including reforming the rebating system, the plan said HHS would seek public comment and some may require Congressional approval.
Trump and Azar framed the proposals as a way of improving the government's power over the industry while promoting competition. "We're immediately going to look into having the FDA require this". "It will be a attractive thing".
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