Trump Says Goal Of New Proposal Is To Lower Drug Prices

Donald Trump speaking

President Donald Trump proposed what he called "revolutionary" changes to how his administration will approach drug pricing and reimbursement under Medicare Part B in a speech Thursday, including allowing Medicare to set prices of drugs based on what is paid in other countries. "The mark-up on Part B drugs appears to independently influence prescribing patterns", said a May policy paper from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Drug Pricing Lab.

Rather than "divine the value" of a drug, the proposal "respects the fact that pharma voluntarily agreed to sell drugs at discounts elsewhere and we're saying 'give us some of that, '" Azar said at a briefing with reporters after Trump's speech. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said on Twitter that some of the drugs cost four times as much in the United States.

"Same company. Same box".

- The plan would not apply to medicines people buy at the pharmacy, just ones administered in a doctor's office, as are many cancer medications and drugs for immune system problems.

- Don't expect immediate rollbacks.

Such a reaction was anticipated by the Trump administration, which has recently sought to show more action on its promises to take on rising drug prices.

Also, Trump's Justice Department is seeking to invalidate the health reform law's provisions governing pre-existing conditions as part of lawsuit being brought by 20 Republican states.

President Donald Trump's plan to lower drug prices sounds a lot like what the "global freeloaders" he often criticizes do themselves to curb high prescription prices.

A number of health care-related announcements have been made by the White House ahead of next month's midterm elections.

Azar rejected the pharma industry's argument that the plan - which among other things would tie Part B drug payments partly to prices elsewhere in the world for the same products - would stifle innovation calling it "mathematically unbelievable". Instead, private vendors would negotiate with drug companies on their behalf and then bill the federal government.

Drugmakers are sure to push back, arguing it would be tantamount to adopting price controls.

In those countries, the government health systems directly negotiate with pharmaceutical makers over the price of their drugs. In his remarks Thursday, he combined that with a swipe at foreign trade practices, framing the Medicare proposal as a way to restore fairness for American healthcare consumers.

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Nicholas Florko is a Washington correspondent for STAT, reporting on the the intersection of politics and health policy. "The 340B program prohibits many 340B hospitals from using a GPO", Testoni added. But that's "quite literally the opposite of what is being proposed".

Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill were dismissive.

Trump "wants the kind of discounts that are applied in Germany and the Netherlands, for the reference reimbursement prices to be applied in the USA", said Rodrigo Moreno-Serra, associate professor of global health economics at the University of York in England. "Seniors, who are hit the hardest, pick up the tab".

Matt Eyles, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said: "Drug prices are out of control, and we commend the Administration for its continued commitment to reduce drug prices".

"The administration is imposing foreign price controls from countries with socialized health care systems that deny their citizens access and discourage innovation", PhRMA Chief Executive Stephen Ubl said in a statement.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar criticized a system in which other countries to pay significantly less for drugs than the USA government.

An HHS report issued just prior to Thursday's announcement compared prices of 27 Part B drugs in the us with those of 16 other wealthy countries and found that prices charged by drugmakers to wholesalers and distributors (known as "ex-manufacturer prices") in the USA were 1.8 times the average global ex-manufacturer price, in the first quarter of 2018. "If we paid the prices other nations pay, we'd bring the $1 billion down to $187 million dollars a year".

HHS says overall savings to Medicare would total $17.2 billion over five years. Beneficiaries would save an estimated $3.4 billion through lower cost-sharing. It could pay them a flat fee, instead of the current system of providing a percentage of the medication's cost.

In addition to trying to cut the base price of the drugs, the administration, through HHS, is proposing changing how doctors who deliver these drugs are paid.

The president in May also claimed drug companies would be announcing "massive" voluntary price cuts.

Yet Mr. Azar disagreed, saying Big Pharma is "never going to walk away" from the huge USA market and will have to either raise prices overseas or find space in their budgets to adjust to the new reality. The plan was issued as an advanced notice of proposed rule making and stakeholders will have 60 days to provide comment.

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