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Trump condemns middlemen in drug-pricing speech

12 May, 2018, 08:06 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Donald Trump speaking

On Friday, President Trump unveiled his much-anticipated plan to control drug prices in the U.S. During his presidential campaign, Trump had promised to take on the big drug companies and it was feared that the plan would include provisions that would hurt profits in the pharmaceutical industry.

"The drug lobby is making an absolute fortune at the expense of American consumers", Trump said.

"Our trading partners need to contribute their fair share toward pharmaceutical research and development by providing robust levels of intellectual property protection and enforcement, as well as having fair and transparent drug pricing systems", Lighthizer said. "Government has also been part of the problem because previous leaders turned a blind eye to this incredible abuse".

CVS Health Corp., a pharmacy benefit manager, released a statement saying that policies to lower drug prices for consumers and reduce out-of-pocket costs are "aligned" with its business model "and would not be expected to have a negative impact on profitability".

"What Trump laid out is policy that Big Pharma can love", said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

- Speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter medications so people can buy more drugs without prescriptions. In a posting to the White House website and Fox News ahead of the speech, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma called high drug pricing "a threat to the financial security of far too many".

Trump also placed blame on foreign governments, saying they extort unreasonably low prices from US drugmakers, forcing companies to charge more in this country.

Medicare is the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the nation, covering 60 million seniors and Americans with disabilities, but it is barred by law from directly negotiating lower prices with drugmakers.

Trump campaigned on lowering prescription drug prices ahead of the 2016 presidential election, even accusing drugmakers of getting away with murder.

"We commend President Trump and his administration for their focus on this essential issue", America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a lobbying group for the health insurance industry, said in a statement.

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. One of those key promises was to deliver much needed relief to the one in five Americans skipping doses or not filling prescriptions due to high drug costs. Drug prices here are high and have been rising rapidly, with patients who pay out of pocket for brand name drugs especially vulnerable to crushing costs. They should only be reimbursed by insurers to align interests for the lowest prices, Azar said. Trump's plan calls on providers in the 340B drug discount program to report on how they use the savings. 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. Industry experts have closely scrutinized the role that pharmacy benefit managers play in the pharmaceutical supply chain. 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. But administration officials offered few specifics on how that would work.



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