Trump assails high drug prices, avoids direct hit on industry

Pharma watchers waited with bated breath for Friday's drug pricing speech from President Donald Trump-who famously said the industry is "getting away with murder".

President Donald Trump and his health secretary are laying out new proposals created to reduce drug prices, including a requirement that drugmakers disclose the cost of their medicines in television advertisements.

Drug prices in the USA can often be three times as much as in the United Kingdom and the European Union and the president thinks those countries should pay their fair share of the costs of research and development of US manufactured pharmaceuticals.

The administration's plan also aims to bolster Medicare's prescription drug benefit, known as Part D, to have more ways of negotiating prices with drug makers. Other proposals include speeding the process of switching prescription drugs to over-the-counter medicines. "Not one that taxes and takes advantage of our patients and our consumers and our citizens".

Though the administration can't force other governments to pay more for American drugs, it can renegotiate trade agreements and toughen intellectual property protections to have that effect, said Bettelheim. "If they don't address the cost that patients see at the pharmacy counter it's not going to be seen as responsive".

Some of the administrations longer-term priorities include restricting use of rebates, creating incentives for drugmakers to lower list prices, and investigating tools to address foreign government practices that it said could be harming innovation and driving up USA prices. This will also be a big win for patients and a direct rebuke to pharmaceutical manufacturers who have been driving up the cost of drugs in recent years. "The proposed changes to Medicare Part D could undermine the existing structure of the program that has successfully held down costs and provided seniors with access to comprehensive prescription drug coverage", the drug lobby said in a statement.

-Look at including prices in drugmakers' ads to increase price competition.

"Today's proposal is an empty gesture that will not meaningfully reduce the cost of prescription drugs for everyday families", said Rep. Health insurance companies and providers spent another $200 million to protect the status quo and keep prices artificially high, the president said.

"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.

Trump promised to end the system's "double dealing that allows middlemen such as pharmacy benefit managers to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed on to consumers and patients" and end the pharmacist "gag rule" that prevents pharmacists from telling patients if they can get a cheaper deal on a prescription by just paying for it directly rather than going through their insurance company. Last year was a record-breaking year for new drug approvals from the FDA. Back in September of 2015, specialists involved in infectious disease protested the enormous overnight increase in the price of the over 60-year-old drug that is commonly used for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.

Topher Spiro, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, argued that a major reason pharma stocks rose as Trump formally announced his plan is because the president placed blame for high USA drug prices on the low prices in nations with "socialized healthcare"-exonerating American drug giants from any blame for soaring costs".


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