Azar Claims US Subsidizes Socialist Medicine Globally With High Drug Prices Locally — Trump Plans to Stop It

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar put countries with socialized medicine on notice: Americans will no longer be subsidizing their cheap prescription drugs.

One of President Donald Trump’s key health care focuses has been on lowering the costs of prescription drugs. Although the gridlock between House Democrats and Senate Republicans has made legislation unlikely, Trump has still managed to have some success in lowering the costs of drugs.

For the first time in 47 years, prescription drug prices dropped by a modest 1.2% in the United States. Still, those in countries with socialized medicine have seen lower drug prices. It’s become a common practice for Americans to cross the border to get a cheaper drug from Canada.

But that could soon change.

Azar noted that the Trump administration is putting forward an effort to force pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs in the U.S. for the same prices they are selling internationally. He claimed that the Americans paying high prices have been subsidizing drugs internationally, giving socialist countries in Europe a better deal.

During an interview on “Varney and Co.” on Fox Business, Azar announced that Trump is working to make this change.

Watch Azar’s comments:

“We’re going to come up with a system to allow importation of drugs that’s safe and effective. The president’s made it clear we’re gonna end foreign free-riding. It is time that the American senior and American patient stops overpaying for drugs, to prop up and subsidize the socialist health care systems of Europe. We are footing the bill for them. We are supporting their socialist systems.”

Trump addressed his plan during a press gaggle last week, telling reporters:

“As you know for years and years other nations pay less for drugs than we do. We’re working on a favored nations clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is. Why should other nations  like Canada — why should other nations pay less than us?”

The president’s plan will likely include a required pricing index for prescription drug prices internationally. For now, it looks as though the pricing index would only be a requirement if the drug is associated with Medicare payments. It would likely take congressional action to enforce this policy for every drug transaction in the U.S.

What do you think?

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General Confusion
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“Why is a SMALLER group able to leverage better prices?” I Ching

I Ching is confused about the poison pill added to the Medicare Modernization Act, years ago. That stops the government (for example, Medicare) from negotiating for better prices the way public health care plans in other countries can negotiate.

This put corporate Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), middlemen, in charge of acquiring drugs through Medicare’s “Part D” plan.

Single-payer systems do keep drug prices reasonable.

Screwtape
Member

Ed,

Obozocare was supposed to provide healthcare/affordability to many who had none. It failed. The easier more, common-sense approach would have been to put those people on Medicaid, which already existed.

Instead it was sold with lies and forced on EVERYONE. This is not unlike carpet-bombing a neighborhood to remove a nest of fire ants.

Screwtape
Member

Ed,

I agree that insulin itself should be cheaply available as a generic, BUT how it’s made is another issue. IIRC it was once animal-derived, but now it’s made by engineered-microorganisms. (not sure if it’s yeast or bacteria)

The advantages of the newer method are (allegdly) greater purity and less chance of allergic reactions. IIRC it’s greater purity also adds to shelf-life.

So there may be reasons for the added expenses besides greed or “gouging”.

Existing products, without substantial changes or an increase in scarcity, should not go up in price. That’s blatant greed. q.v. Epipens.

Screwtape
Member

James,

Most pharma in the US is made in places like China, India, Mexico, and even Europe. I can’t say if it’s due to lower-labor costs (it’s largely automated) but it’s NOT due to laws as ALL must meet FDA standards.

Surprisingly each state has its own drug regulations, but most just follow the FDA.

Ed
Member

Screwtape, you’re absolutely right, but it doesn’t only apply to the elderly. Many diabetics also go for insulin, which should almost be free at this point given how long it’s been around and how inexpensive it is to make. For a free-market country like ours, it’s almost criminal that we aren’t allowed to get our medicine from whichever source we choose. I live fairly close to the Mexico border and have gotten dental work for me and my family over there. What would cost $5k at a local dentist and four visits over a month costs $1k and they’ll do… Read more »

Screwtape
Member

Whether we subsidize it or not is less important than WHAT Americans pay for pharmaceuticals. WHY do other nations, e.g. Canada, pay so much less? Considering relative US/Canada populationsl Why is a SMALLER group able to leverage better prices?

We have examples of greed and corruption, q.v. Martin Shkreli. If government contractors for the detention camps must account then so should the pharma companies.

Ed
Member

This is exactly the opposite way of thinking, at least as far as something for the good of our own population goes. What they should focus on is why the US pays more than any other country for medicine, instead of getting caught up on why other countries pay less. I’d love to see how our government plans to strongarm the governments of other nations to change their laws to make their medicine more expensive. If they would just allow us to purchase our own medicine wherever we choose to (you know, like actual Capitalism would promote) the prices would… Read more »

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