Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

Trump to talk about lowering drug prices Friday

Trump to talk about lowering drug prices Friday

The drug price plan is called American Patients First, and is meant to increase pharmaceutical competition and lower patients' out-of-pocket costs, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters in advance on Thursday.

"When foreign governments extort unreasonably low prices from U.S. drugmakers, Americans have to pay more to subsidize the enormous cost of research and development", he said.

It would mostly spare the pharmaceutical industry he previously accused of "getting away with murder". It's an approach that could avoid a direct confrontation with the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, but it could also underwhelm Americans seeking relief from escalating prescription costs. A drug maker will negotiate with the entity paying for the drug, which, in the USA, is often a pharmacy benefits manager, such as Express Scripts, or a health plan administered by a business or a union.

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

It's unclear just how or how much those measures will ultimately lead to lower drug prices.

For the more ambitious proposals, including reforming the rebating system, the plan said HHS would seek public comment and some may require Congressional approval. But the administration has spent the past few weeks dropping clues about the policy directions it favors - including a slew of technical proposals that do little to threaten the pharmaceutical industry that would seem to be at greatest risk from any plan to lower drug prices. Unlike his fiscal 2019 budget proposal, the majority of the actions he'll discuss Friday don't need Congress' approval, they said. Medicare will continue to be prohibited from directly negotiating prices by law. "However, it is really disturbing that the blueprint released today does not address the Medicare sequester cut to drug payments that is fueling higher costs and cancer drug prices". The administration has also for months been vetting the idea of providing the rebates negotiated on drug prices to seniors at the pharmacy counter.

The president did say in his speech that his proposal gives Medicare plans "new tools to negotiate lower prices for more drugs".

Kim Jong Un meets with Xi Jinping in northern China
Previous U.S. efforts to negotiate an end to the North's nuclear weapons program failed under Presidents Clinton and George W. In March, Kim travelled by train to Beijing , his first known trip overseas since assuming power in 2011.

"The pricing mechanisms are arcane, and they're not easily understandable, and there are a lot of different prices along the way - and different people touching the drug at different places in the system", said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health. Trump said his plan is aimed at removing "gag" rules placed on pharmacists that prevent them from telling patients when a drug or its competitor would cost less if the patient pays out of pocket rather than going through insurance. "A study previous year by the industry journal Health Affairs found that the premiums that drugmakers earn by charging more for US medicines far outweigh the amount they spend on developing new products". "The drug prices have gone through the roof".

Trump also placed blame on foreign governments, which negotiate lower drug prices than in the United States, saying they "extort" unreasonably low prices from USA drug manufacturers.

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.

Prescription-drug spending in the US grew 1.3 percent in 2016, to $328.6 billion, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"It took decades to erect this very complex, interwoven system", Azar said in a briefing following the speech.

In the U.S., Medicare is the largest purchaser of prescription drugs, covering 60 million seniors and Americans with disabilities, but it is barred by law from directly negotiating lower prices with drugmakers. Democrats have long favored giving Medicare that power, but Republicans traditionally oppose the idea.

The drug industry's top lobbying arm, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, spent almost $26 million to sway federal decision makers a year ago, according to records tallied by Center for Responsive Politics.

Like this: