Trump blasts drugmakers, middlemen for high US drug prices

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on tax reform at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in Cleveland Ohio U.S

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on tax reform at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in Cleveland Thomson Reuters

President Trump on Friday unveiled his plan to cut the cost of prescription drugs.

"We have got to negotiate drug prices with Medicare".

The measures aim to increase competition, create incentives for drugmakers to lower initial prices and stop foreign governments from "freeloading" off USA pharmaceutical research.

Some of the administration's longer-term priorities include restricting use of rebates, creating incentives for drug makers to lower list prices in Medicare, and investigating tools to address foreign government practices that it said could be harming innovation and driving up USA prices.

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

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".

The administration will pursue a raft of old and new measures meant to improve competition and transparency in the notoriously complex drug pricing system. We believe this approach leads to greater transparency in drug prices, and unquestionably demonstrates the true cause of rising drug costs for consumers: high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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.

Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the market will bear because the US government doesn't regulate medicine prices, unlike most other developed countries.

Azar also said the FDA would "immediately" look into requiring drugmakers to disclose prices in their ads, although the details are unclear.

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"Everyone involved in the broken system - the drug makers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, and many others - contribute to the problem", Mr. Trump said. Under his leadership, we have also not seen too many incidents of import alerts so far and this is likely to continue to support the incremental drug approvals.

Many people anticipate changes to the Medicare prescription drug benefit, outlined in Trump's budget, that could insulate seniors from high drug costs. The President's proposals are yet another giveaway to Big Pharma, and do nothing to hold wealthy drug companies accountable for their unconscionable price gouging. Pharmaceutical companies - and some insurers and employers - have increasingly lost patience with the opaque system and accuse PBMs of pocketing the rebates. "Trump chose the incremental over the disruptive". "Trump abandoned his campaign commitment to Medicare Part D negotiation. and shamefully aims to beat up on other countries to make them pay more".

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".

Trump also said that the administration will attempt to make it easier for more over-the-counter drugs to be made available, thus reducing the need for as many prescriptions.

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.

Downside: Rebate payments are typically pooled together, and companies that administer Part D plans say that helps keep monthly premiums low for everyone in a plan. "The AMA [American Medical Association] is pleased the Trump administration is moving forward with its effort to address seemingly arbitrary pricing for prescription drugs", AMA president David Barbe, MD, said in a statement. This also gives manufactures the incentive to raise prices and gives providers the incentive to select more expensive medicines. "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. "I don't want to overpromise that somehow by Monday there's going to be a radical change, but there's a deep commitment to structural change". "The drug prices have gone through the roof".

The U.S. spent $1,162 per person on prescription drugs in 2015, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. "They're taking it from both sides, getting compensated from insurance companies and from the drug companies they've negotiating against", he said. According to statistics of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States has the highest annual health expenditures of any industrialized country, at almost $10,000 per capita, with drugs prices playing a major role. "Health policy experts like this idea because it reduces the burden on patients with serious chronic illnesses and spreads the expense of needed medications across the entire insured population", The New York Times said.

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

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. But Trump's plan stopped short of letting Medicare negotiate prices with drug makers directly, something he talked about in his campaign.

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