During his time in office, President Donald Trump has pushed for lower drug prices by announcing a series of policy proposals designed to bring down domestic drug prices. Today, however, it has been reported that the Trump administration is retreating from a measure that had the potential to reshape the way drugs are priced in the United States.
According to a STAT report, Trump administration officials withdrew a proposal that would have banned the discounts that pharmaceutical companies negotiate with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for Medicare patients.
If fully implemented, the proposed rule would have upended the PBM business model, which receive from insurers a cut of the discount negotiated for the price of a drug. The United States government is the largest single buyer of drugs nationally through its Medicaid and Medicare programs. Pharmaceutical company executives, under public scrutiny for high drug prices, have largely blamed PBMs for driving up the list prices of drugs. In an interview with STAT, an administration official said President Trump remained encouraged by bipartisan efforts to bring down drug prices and would continue to look for ways to bring prices down himself.
This is the second setback in a week for those hoping executive action from the Trump administration might lower drug prices. Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule requiring drug companies to disclose the sticker price of drugs over $35 in television commercials, according to an NPR report.
President Trump has discussed a number of recent measures to tackle the problem of high drug prices. Most recently, he remarked to reporters that he hopes to issue an executive order requiring drugs be offered in the United States at the same low price they are offered in other industrialized nations. President Trump’s remarks on the subject were short on details, leaving health care reporters in the position of having to speculate how exactly the president would make such a move happen.
One thing is for certain – the high cost of prescription drugs is sure to be a hot button topic in the leadup to national elections in 2020. Despite a bevy of hearings and proposals on the rising costs of prescription drugs, those costs only continue to climb. According to a Politico report, the average price U.S. consumers paid for prescription drugs rose 10.5 percent in the past six months.