Trump drops populist proposals in his policy, calls for more generic drugs

Trump is about to lay out his plans to lower drug prices — here's what to expect

"We will have tougher negotiation, more competition and much lower prices", he said.

According to senior administration officials, Trump plans to talk about how to increase competition, get more negotiating power, and find ways to lower pharmaceutical list prices as well as the out-of-pocket costs patients are facing. The administration's written proposal is more vague, saying that it "may" prohibit these gag clauses in plans for Part D, the Medicare drug program.

That idea has always been supported by Democrats but is a non-starter for drugmakers and most Republicans in Congress.

Instead, administration officials are previewing a raft of old and new ideas to increase competition and improve transparency in the notoriously complex drug pricing system with the ultimate aim of wringing more savings for consumers.

Health care experts said Trump's plan sounded like rhetoric rather than substantive change for an industry where prices rise substantially more than inflation each year.

Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the market will bear because the US government doesn't regulate medicine prices, unlike most other countries.

The speech will also go after other countries that pay less than the USA for drugs.

Azar also said the FDA would "immediately" look into requiring drugmakers to disclose prices in their ads, although the details are unclear. The plan also calls for streamlining and speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter drugs. Those steps include: requiring insurers to share rebates from drug companies with Medicare patients and changing the way Medicare pays for high-priced drugs administered at doctors' offices.

Trump's approach that avoids a direct confrontation with the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, but it could also underwhelm Americans seeking relief from escalating prescription costs.

"This weak plan abandons the millions of hard-working families struggling with the crisis of surging drug prices", said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a statement. Pharmaceutical companies - and some insurers and employers - have increasingly lost patience with the opaque system and accuse PBMs of pocketing the rebates. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, who's called for a number of the policies on prescription drugs the Trump administration is now planning on implementing.




But the White House plan largely drops some of the most aggressive, populist attacks Trump proposed on the campaign trail, mostly sparing the pharmaceutical industry he previously accused of "getting away with murder". But as president he has shied away from major reforms and staffed his administration with appointees who have deep ties to the industry. HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who also spoke Friday, seemed to warn that some of these changes would take time.

Azar and other Trump officials have described the problem in stark terms and promised bold action.

Trump said he wants to eliminate "middlemen" in the drug industry - which includes pharmacy benefit managers and wholesalers - and he criticized industry lobbyists for making a fortune at the expense of taxpayers and patients.

Healthcare investors had braced for months for more direct attempts to regulate USA prices that would cut into industry profits. He gave no timeframe for more concrete steps. "By and large, the amount of money that this health system, that government and private payers are going to be spending on prescription drugs is probably not going to change significantly". "The drug prices have gone through the roof". Meanwhile Americans are paying more at the pharmacy counter due to health insurance plans that require them to shoulder more of their prescription costs.

The U.S. spent $1,162 per person on prescription drugs in 2015, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In countries with centralized health care systems, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and most nations in the European Union, a single entity negotiates on behalf of all the country's residents. "Most of us feel, 'what can we do about it?' As an individual, I don't think there's much I can do about it".

President Trump's blueprint stops short of allowing Medicare to negotiate its own prices, something the President campaigned on and something Varun Vaidya with the University of Toledo's College of Pharmacy says could bring down prices.

Pharma industry, in the worst case scenario, had expected federal government to directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare and allow import of prescription drugs by patients from overseas.

The drug industry's top lobbying arm, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, spent almost $26 million to sway federal decision makers previous year, according to records tallied by Center for Responsive Politics.

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