Trump's Plan to Lower Drug Prices: A Q&A

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President Donald Trump will deliver this afternoon a twice-delayed, much-anticipated speech about his plan to lower drug prices - after a year when harsh rhetoric against drugmakers was accompanied by little action.

Earlier in the day, the White House unveiled a blueprint to bring down the cost of U.S. drugs. Watching from the crowd was Sen.

"Think about all the time everybody spends watching drug company ads, and how much information companies are required to put in them". Cassidy, who worked as a Baton Rouge physician before entering politics, joined a bipartisan group of senators pushing to outlaw the clauses in March.

Those ideas have always been supported by Democrats but are considered non-starters by drugmakers, who wield considerable influence in Washington. Trump had met with House Democrats Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Peter Welch of Vermont in March 2017, when they said he readily backed their bill to give Medicare negotiating powers. Those include a proposal requiring drugmakers to disclose the cost of their medicines in their television advertisements.

Azar said the federal government should be able to implement most of the changes using regulatory powers, bypassing a potentially messy battle on Capitol Hill. But the costs of R&D actually don't explain the elevated price of US drugs compared with the rest of the world. "I'm for transparency, but you have to shed light on the drug manufacturers here too", said Jeff Davis, a senior advisor at the law firm Baker Donelson. "The president is willing to take on high drug costs in a way which other presidents have not".

"Every incentive is toward higher list prices because everyone in the system gets a cut off that list price except the patient", said Azar, speaking on "Fox and Friends" on Friday morning. Unwinding those incentives requires structural changes to the market, Cassidy said.

The idea is one of many old and new proposals outlined in a White House blueprint unveiled in a long-awaited speech by the president. It's an approach that could avoid a direct confrontation with the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, but it could also underwhelm Americans seeking relief from escalating prescription costs.

Trump revealed the instruction during a Friday announcement unveiling the administration's overall strategy for lowering drug costs.

"Redirecting rebates and price concessions to enrollees can be a helpful way to reduce sticker shock at the counter", says Dena B. Mendelsohn, senior attorney and healthcare policy advocate for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.

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Notably absent from the plan, for example, was the idea of allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices directly, which Trump had promised during his election campaign.

As a candidate, Trump railed against the pharmaceutical industry. But as president he has shied away from major changes and has staffed his administration with appointees who have deep ties to the industry. Azar, a former Eli Lily executive, said drugmakers could be punished for standing in the way of generics and biosimilars. A spokesperson with the American Cancer Society said in an email that the group was also reviewing the plan and could not comment on specifics.

For the more ambitious proposals, including reforming the rebating system, the plan said HHS would seek public comment and some may require Congressional approval.

"Let's assume all of the other countries in the world agreed to pay the same price we do-that doesn't guarantee or assure us that the drug company would lower the price in the USA", said Stephen Shondelmeyer, head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems at the University of Minnesota.

Ultimately, the Plan Could Have a Very Limited Effect: "This is not doing anything to fundamentally change the drug supply chain or the drug pricing system", Gerard Anderson, a health policy professor at Johns Hopkins University, told CNN before the blueprint's release. One prong in the administration's attack on high drug prices is to stop anticompetitive practices by drugmakers.

The plan, however, is expected to mostly spare the pharmaceutical industry he previously accused of "getting away with murder".

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.

"Very expensive champagne will be popping in drug company boardrooms across the country tonight", Cummings said in a statement before the speech Friday.

A majority of Americans say passing laws to bring down prescription drug prices should a "top priority" for Trump and Congress, according to recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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