Trump blasts drugmakers, middlemen for high US drug prices

May 12, 2018, 11:20
Trump blasts drugmakers, middlemen for high US drug prices

Republicans welcomed the president's attention to drug prices and promised to review his proposals, which Trump said would "derail the gravy train for special interests".

"Finally, as we demand fairness for American patients at home we will also demand fairness overseas".

The more customers a plan covers, the more leverage it has to demand lower prices from the drug maker.

Trump argued that other countries take advantage of the USA pharmaceutical industry and its investments in research and development, claiming that bringing downs costs at home would require increasing prices in foreign countries. Patients in the USA pay as much as six times more for drugs than patients in other countries, according to the International Federation of Health Plans. "We reformed the drug program for safety net hospitals to save senior citizens hundreds of millions of dollars on drugs this year alone", Trump said. "It'd be nice if there was bipartisan congressional support to take sensible steps to reduce drug pricing, but politics obviously complicate matters", Hyman said.

Vaidya said drug prices are lower in other countries with government-run health care because they set limits on prices. "Pharma finds a way to maximize profits". CVS Health's stock increased 3.2%, up almost $2 at market's close.

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David Hyman, a professor at the Georgetown Law Center, called the HHS document "an extensive and impressive list", suggesting that the administration is taking the issue of high drugs prices "very seriously".

As public outrage increases, there are growing calls by patient advocates and others for more government regulation of prices, a practice common in other industrialized countries.

Familiar in its themes and rhetoric, the speech touched on everything from privatization to patent laws, while spotlighting plans to kill "gag rules" affecting pharmacists and to "demand fairness overseas" where Trump said foreign governments "extort unreasonably low prices from USA drugmakers", putting the onus of subsidizing R&D costs squarely on Americans. "We've got to figure out ways to move those drugs into private Part D negotiations so we can. start getting bargains for seniors and taxpayers".

- A potential requirement for drugmakers to disclose the cost of their medicines in television advertisements.

Some in the pharmaceutical industry are concerned the proposals may end up restricting consumer access to certain treatments. It also looks to accelerate approval of over-the-counter medicines. It will also create a report for the president evaluating whether lower prices on some Medicare Part B drugs could be negotiated by Part D plans. "For Aetna, the average price of brand name drugs has increased by 40 percent over the past three years". "If not, all of this other stuff seems like window dressing, important window dressing, but window dressing". Health policy specialists say the devil is in the details but point out that consumer effects could be highly variable depending on people's drugs, health plans and what other policy changes occur.

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Azar said the federal government should be able to implement most of the changes using regulatory powers, bypassing a potentially messy battle on Capitol Hill.

"With all the buildup the administration has given it, the president's speech was deeply underwhelming".

"Let's assume all of the other countries in the world agreed to pay the same price we do-that doesn't guarantee or assure us that the drug company would lower the price in the USA", said Stephen Shondelmeyer, head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems at the University of Minnesota. "If you're activating a patient to have a discussion with their doctor about a drug, it's relevant to find out if it's a $50,000 drug or a $100 drug because often a patient is going to bare a lot of that cost", Azar told reporters after the speech. Trump said he would direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to "make fixing this injustice a top priority with every trading partner".

Trump also placed blame on foreign governments, saying they "extort unreasonably low prices" from USA drugmakers, forcing companies to charge more in this country. Industry experts have closely scrutinized the role that pharmacy benefit managers play in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

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