Pharma breathes easy as Trump's drug pricing plan fizzles

Donald Trump speaking

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

Crafted with the help of former pharmaceutical executive and current Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Trump's plan represents a total departure from the president's campaign-trail rhetoric promising to take on drug giants that are "getting away with murder".

The blueprint, which echoes numerous ideas first put forward in Trump's FY 2019 proposed budget and the White House Council of Economic Advisers drug pricing report, focuses on four areas: lowering high list prices set by manufacturers; equipping government and private payers with new tools to negotiate prices; lowering out-of-pocket costs for consumers and taking steps to stop other countries from "freeloading" off of American innovation.

He disparaged the culture of Washington, DC, that allowed "middle-men" and political lobbyists to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars to keep costs high by using government. 340B is a critical tool in the toolbox that provides drugs at lower prices to those on the front lines of patient care.

Mr. Trump's plan mostly targets drug makers and distributors, seeking to increase competition and create incentives for lower prices. After listing a series of measures aimed at the USA market-such as encouraging competition between pharmaceutical companies through new patent laws, penalizing drugmakers that raise prices, and making more drugs available over-the-counter-Trump moved onto a familiar scapegoat: the rest of the world.

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.

"The market's reaction initially was to sell off.and then by the end of the speech we saw the rally across the health care sector". "Not one that taxes and takes advantage of our patients and our consumers and our citizens".

The president also touted his plan to ban the pharmacist gag rule which prevents pharmacists from informing patients about cheaper options.

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Trump's Plan Includes Plenty of Steps He Can Take Without Congress: "It's framed as a pro-competitive agenda, and touches on a range of government programs that the administration can change through regulation - so that the president can take unilateral action", Daniel N. Mendelson, the president of research consultancy Avalere Health, told The New York Times. 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.

"When foreign governments extort unreasonably low prices from US drugmakers, Americans have to pay more to subsidize the enormous cost of research and development".

"We are getting tough on drugmakers that exploit our patent laws to choke out competition".

In 2018, the president has been relatively quiet about the price of prescription drugs, though top officials in his administration have called out different parts of the healthcare industry.

"It took decades to erect this very complex, interwoven system", Azar said in a briefing following the speech. A drug maker will negotiate with the entity paying for the drug, which, in the US, is often a pharmacy benefits manager, such as Express Scripts, or a health plan administered by a business or a union.

Public outrage over drug costs has been growing for years as Americans face pricing pressure from multiple sources: New medicines for life-threatening diseases often launch with prices exceeding $100,000 per year.

Trump called his plan the "most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people".

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

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