Ways Trump's Drug Price Plan Could Lower Rx Costs

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

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

President Donald Trump outlined plans Friday to reduce soaring U.S. prescription drug prices, among the highest in the world, but opposition Democrats accused him of falling short of his election campaign promises.

In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said his administration was "putting American patients first".

It also said 16 of the top 20 best-selling drugs in the United States "increased significantly in price in the first year of the Trump Administration, mostly by double digits".

Instead of tackling high US prices, Trump effectively promised to work to "boost prices overseas", which is the drug industry's "number one priority", Spiro notes.

- Speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter medications so people can buy more drugs without prescriptions. "Not one that taxes and takes advantage of our patients and our consumers and our citizens". "At the same time, it is not clear at all how they are going to lower list prices". "In some cases, medicine that costs a few dollars in a foreign country costs hundreds of dollars in America, for the same pill with the same ingredients in the same package made in the same plant, and that is unacceptable", Trump said. But Trump's plan stopped short of letting Medicare negotiate prices with drug makers directly, something he talked about in his campaign. 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. The administration has also for months been vetting the idea of providing the rebates negotiated on drug prices to seniors at the pharmacy counter.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, during the press briefing, said that the current system is non-transparent and there is incentive for the drug companies to keep list prices high. Companies that make expensive specialty drugs saw their stocks rise, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Biogen.

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"It took decades to erect this very complex, interwoven system", Azar said in a briefing following the speech. However, one of the administration's proposals "requiring drug rebates to be passed through to Medicare patients at the pharmacy counter would likely lead to higher drug prices from manufacturers, and would lead to higher premiums for seniors, as well as $40 billion in additional costs for hardworking taxpayers". But President Donald Trump plans to tackle the thorny health care issue in a long-awaited speech on Friday. "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.

Incentives for lower list prices will include an FDA evaluation of rules that would require manufacturers to list drug prices in advertising and, later, taking measures to restrict the use of rebates, which the president identified as a major contributor to high list prices.

The president referred to price disparity in overseas versus domestic markets; while one particular medicine may cost hundreds of dollars in the USA, prices overseas are often a third or half the cost, he argued, adding that the inconsistently is "unfair and it's ridiculous, and it's not going to happen any longer". Drug prices vary widely based on a consumer's insurance plan. "We will have tougher negotiation, more competition and much lower prices", he said.

Lowering drug prices may be almost as complicated as bringing peace to the Middle East.

"I think the mood, just generally, across the health sector is 'watch and wait, ' " said Mark Merritt, president of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the lobby for pharmacy benefit managers.

The U.S. pays 70 percent of the profits for brand-name drugs, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. "If we want to have a real market for drugs, why not have them disclose their prices in the ads, too?"

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