Trump Pitches Pharma Industry on Lowering Drug Prices

| MAY 11, 2018 | 9:13 PM

Alex Edelman/Getty Images

President Donald Trump made a massive pitch to the pharmaceutical industry to significantly lower drug prices on Friday, singling out industry middlemen.

“Everyone involved in the broken system — the drug makers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, and many others — contribute to the problem,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden. 

A robust plan to lower prices, rolled out by the White House on Friday, will aim to eliminate the lucrative role the drug lobby plays in the distribution process.

The Trump administration's initiative includes tools for Medicare Part D to negotiate lower prices, bans the Pharmacist Gag Rule, and directs the FDA to expedite the approval of over-the-counter medicines. 

The multi-pronged approach pushes for upped competition and incentives while lowering out-of-pocket costs for the everyday American. Trump also took aim at the role overseas manufacturers play in potential price manipulations.

“When foreign governments extort unreasonably low prices from U.S. drug makers, Americans have to pay more to subsidize the enormous cost of research and development,” Trump said.

The president referred to price disparity in overseas versus domestic markets; while one particular medicine may cost hundreds of dollars in the U.S., 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.”

Trump was joined by several members of his cabinet, including Secretary Alex Azar, Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary Wilbur Ross, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, and Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

He also called upon Congress to pass legislation based on the administration's priorities, though it's unlikely that either chamber will pass major legislation until after the November midterm elections.

“And we will not rest until the job of unfair pricing is a total victory for the USA,” Trump concluded. “It will happen, and it's going to happen quickly.”