Trump plan for drug prices won't include direct negotiations

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

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

After listing a series of measures aimed at the U.S. 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.

CVS Health Corp., a pharmacy benefit manager, released a statement saying that policies to lower drug prices for consumers and reduce out-of-pocket costs are "aligned" with its business model "and would not be expected to have a negative impact on profitability".

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

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". Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas dismissed Trump's plan as "a sugar-coated nothing pill".

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday blasted drugmakers and healthcare middlemen for making prescription medicines unaffordable for Americans, but healthcare stocks rose as his administration avoided aggressive direct measures to cut prices. "They're not gonna like that", he said. The administration is directing the FDA to consider the proposal. He said it would take years to restructure the US drug system.

But during Trump's first year in office, the pharmaceutical industry's top lobby group boosted its spend by 30% to work on patent issues, importation, Medicare negotiations and more.

"When big pharmaceutical companies' stocks spike during your big reveal on lowering prices, you're doing something wrong", Brad Woodhouse, campaign director of Protect Our Care, said in a statement following Trump's speech on Friday. "For Aetna, the average price of brand name drugs has increased by 40 percent over the past three years". Medicare Part D drug spending grew almost 45% between 2013 and 2016, and more beneficiaries are reaching catastrophic coverage of at least $5,000 out-of-pocket costs-up 50% from 2013 to 2016, according to a new study from Avalere.

Many parts of the plan were previously proposed in the president's budget proposal sent to Congress, including providing free generic drugs to low-income seniors and sharing rebates from drugmakers with Medicare patients.

The way drug prices are determined is fundamentally the same everywhere. "In particular we were pleased that the Administration recognized and endorsed policies that we have advocated for over the years, including increasing access to biosimilars, increasing the number of generic drugs available, and eliminating gag clauses and clawbacks - anti-patient practices that we do not engage in".

Some more substantive changes are contemplated by the blueprint, although the document didn't lay out any concrete steps for how to achieve them.

"I think it's more bark than bite", said Bettelheim. Industry experts have closely scrutinized the role that pharmacy benefit managers play in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

But it disagrees with the rebate policy.

The president has faced mounting pressure to confront the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, which have become a key driver of rising health care costs and a major complaint for millions of American patients.

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