Trump blasts drugmakers, payers for high U.S. drug prices

Donald Trump speaking

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. So-called PBMs negotiate drug benefits for insurance plans and employers. Democrats have long favored giving Medicare that power, but Republicans traditionally oppose the idea.

The pharmaceutical industry has spent heavily this year on lobbying the federal government, perhaps with Trump's twice-delayed drug pricing plan in mind. This issue isn't going away anytime soon-but Trump's address doesn't appear to have rocked big pharma's (or other industry players') apple cart. Explaining that other countries pay "a tiny fraction of what the medicine costs in the U.S".

- A potential requirement for drugmakers to disclose the cost of their medicines in television advertisements.

- Speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter medications so people can buy more drugs without prescriptions.

Require Medicare Part D drug plans to share a minimum portion of drug rebates with patients.

It's an approach that avoids a direct confrontation with the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, but it could also underwhelm Americans seeking relief from escalating prescription costs. But most Trump's drug price reforms may largely spare the drug industry itself-a possible reason that both S&P and NASDAQ biotech indices rose almost 3% following the address. "Trump chose the incremental over the disruptive". Other parts could be implemented directly by the administration.

"Right now, we don't have a truly free market when it comes to drug pricing, and in too many cases, that's driving prices to unaffordable levels for some patients", Gottlieb said in a speech last week.

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As a candidate, Trump railed against the pharmaceutical industry. That includes Azar, a former top executive at Eli Lilly.

Trump officials have hinted for weeks that the plan, in part, will untangle the convoluted system of discounts and rebates between drugmakers and insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and other health care middlemen.

The report, previewed in a posting to the White House website and Fox News ahead of the speech, touts plans for action on "four major problems:" high list prices, lack of negotiating tools for seniors and government programs, high out-of-pocket costs, and foreign governments that, according to the preview "freeload off of American innovation".

Give Medicare Part D drug plan issuers more benefits design flexibility. "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". Drugs for common ailments like diabetes and asthma routinely see price hikes around 10 percent annually. (NYSE:ESRX) also rose, climbing about 2.6 percent to close at $72.80 on Friday, as the company struck a populist tone in a statement saying that it "stands up to drug companies and drug stores to make sure that everyone - patients, employers, health plans, unions and public programs - get a fair deal for the money they spend". "There's no question American consumers pay the highest prices in the world".

Speaking in Washington on Friday, he said he had directed his top trade negotiator to make the issue a priority in trade talks. Azar also asserted that pharmaceutical company ads on TV should disclose prices (although he didn't specify which ones would be listed given the convoluted US price negotiation regimen).

"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. "They're setting prices in other countries and we're not".

The president is under pressure to deliver on campaign promises to reduce the high costs of prescription drugs. The FDA approved more than 1,000 low-priced generic drugs a year ago, Trump said, which has not only increased competition but saved the American people $9 billion.

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