Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Trump aims for lower drug prices

Trump aims for lower drug prices

President Donald Trump Friday unveiled a new proposal to help lower drug prices.

Trump calls his plan the "most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people".

Congress could implement policies Trump previously proposed, including capping seniors' out-of-pocket spending on drugs in Medicare, or requiring discounts negotiated by drug plans to be shared with seniors at the pharmacy counter.

That idea has always been supported by Democrats but is a non-starter for drugmakers and most Republicans in Congress.

Rather than bestow price negotiation power, the administration is trying a variety of approaches to Medicare reform in hopes of curbing drug costs. They should only be reimbursed by insurers to align interests for the lowest prices, Azar said.

But Express Scripts Inc., a St. Louis-based PBM that's being acquired by Cigna Corp., praised the administration's proposals. It comes after more than a year of promises to tackle pharmacy costs that are squeezing millions of Americans.

Democrats pounced on Trump for not pursuing direct Medicare negotiations, an idea championed before reaching the White House.

In a statement, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the president's plan "yet another giveaway to big pharma". "Trump chose the incremental over the disruptive".

President Donald Trump is set to unveil his long-awaited plan for reducing drug prices. "Don't be fooled: President Trump and his administration are bought and paid for by Big Pharma".

Trump was joined by several members of his cabinet, including Secretary Alex Azar, Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary Wilbur Ross, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, and Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Medicare Part D drug spending grew almost 45% between 2013 and 2016, and more beneficiaries are reaching catastrophic coverage of at least $5,000 out-of-pocket costs-up 50% from 2013 to 2016, according to a new study from Avalere. The rule should be that only those drugs that haven't increased their list price for 18 months get to be in a protected class. He gave no timeframe for more concrete steps.

"Every incentive is toward higher list prices because everyone in the system gets a cut off that list price except the patient", Azar told "Fox and Friends" Friday morning. I need them to invent drugs, or I'm going to die sooner than I want to.

Public outrage over drug costs has been growing for years as Americans face pricing pressure from all sides: New medicines for life-threatening diseases often launch with prices exceeding $100,000 per year. One proposal, for example, could encourage drug makers to put prices in their ads, to promote ad-driven price competition.

With the president's recent announcement on drug prices, relief can be expected via the "American Patients First" blueprint. Roughly 30% of the dollar value of prescriptions filled in the paid for by Medicare, making the US government the single biggest customer for pharmaceuticals by a wide margin.

"The market's reaction initially was to sell off.and then by the end of the speech we saw the rally across the health care sector".

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.

But Big Pharma Should Still Be On Notice: "The industry is among the most profitable of any industry in the USA and as such probably has room to give", Wells Fargo analyst David Maris told Bloomberg.

"It's hard to know why Germany or France of Australia would agree to something like that", said Professor Jack Hoadley of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute.

He also took aim at small pharmaceutical companies who buy up off-patent generic drugs and raise the prices sharply.

The plan also will target Medicare Part B by limiting price increases that exceed the inflation rate within the program and restricting incentives for providers to prescribe high-cost drugs.

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