White House Prepares to Roll Out Drug Pricing Reform Proposal Package Today

Published: May 11, 2018 By

Capital

On the campaign trail and at political rallies President Donald Trump has decried the high price of prescription medications. Today the president is expected to propose what could be sweeping reforms to help lower the cost of those medications for consumers.

According to CNN, Americans, per person, spend more than $1,100 annually on prescription medicines – more than any other country in the world. That cost is something that Trump has been critical of since the campaign trail. Senior officials at the White House laid out some broad strokes for Trump’s proposal during a Thursday call.

Trump’s proposals, which can largely be done through executive orders, according to reports, will seek to “increase competition and improve the negotiation of drug prices, as well as reduce consumers' out-of-pocket spending on medicines and create incentives to lower list prices,” CNN reported.

Citing a fact sheet distributed by the White House to media, CNN said the proposed strategies include allowing Medicare Part D insurers to have “greater flexibility ... to encourage better price negotiation.” That, the White House said according to CNN, would get “government rules out of the way that are preventing seniors from getting better deals.” In a recent address, CNN noted that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the agency is focused on several problems in the drug industry, including the high list prices set by manufacturers. How the insurers will gain a better bargaining chip for pricing was not outlined, CNN said.

CNN also noted that there are few expectations that the Trump proposal will actually try to regulate what the pharmaceutical manufacturers can charge for medicines.

Politico noted in its report that some generic prescription drugs could become free to seniors on Medicare under the planned proposal.

One place Trump’s proposal does not go, according to reports, is having the government negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare. Current federal law does not allow the government to negotiate with drug companies to bring down the price of drugs for seniors using Medicare. Despite some calls to change that law, it seems that is something Trump does not wish to tackle at this time.

Trump has long been critical of drug pricing. Days before he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Trump said the drug companies are “getting away with murder” when it comes to the prices the companies charge for medication.

During the Friday afternoon address, Trump is also expected to criticize foreign pricing of drugs. He has long been critical of those countries that enact strict pricing controls on medications provided through government-supported health programs. Trump has said those countries are getting a “free ride” off of American consumers and innovation. A White House official echoed those sentiments during the Thursday call, Politico said.

“The U.S. taxpayer, through our publicly funded research efforts as well as through patients and consumers … are largely paying for the vast majority of the R&D that goes into the development of new biologics,” an unnamed senior administration official said, according to Politico.

How Trump will challenge overseas pricing was not disclosed by the White House officials.

Drug pricing rebates will likely be addressed by the administration. The government will be taking a closer look at the relationship between insurers and Prescription Benefits Managers. Pharmacy benefits managers play an increasingly important role in the price consumers pay for drugs. In an analysis of the role PBMs play in the pricing of medications, the Los Angeles Times said that although drug companies set the list price, “virtually no PBM pays that price for brand-name drugs.”  

Full details of the plan will be revealed Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. EDT.

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