Trump Strikes At PBMs, Insurers, Drugmakers With Plans To Lower Consumer Prices

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on tax reform at the Cleveland Public Auditorium in Cleveland Ohio U.S. May

Health-care stocks whipsawed on Friday as President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited plan to lower prescription drug prices, dubbed "American Patients First".

A couple of those items include expanding private sector negotiations for Medicare and getting drug companies to disclose their prices in their ads.

Trump did not specifically name any countries, but according to a report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers profit margins on brand-name drugs in the United States are four times as high as in more regulated markets, such as major European countries and Japan. In a speech, the president announced measures to increase competition and pricing transparency as ways to drive down costs, which have been spiraling.

Trump said his proposals would result in "eliminating the middle men; the middle men became very, very rich". But under this administration, we are putting American patients first.

The Louisiana senator, echoing Azar's remarks, said he sees the entire pharmaceutical market as rife with "incredibly bad incentives" that create "incredibly high drug costs for too many Americans". "America will not be cheated any longer, and especially will not be cheated by foreign countries". Industry experts have closely scrutinized the role that pharmacy benefit managers play in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

"This is going to be comprehensive, hard-hitting and across the board", Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday on CNBC.

Azar and other Trump officials have described the pricing problem in stark terms and promised bold action. A simple word of support today from the President would have added even more momentum.

One new proposal would allow senior citizens enrolled in Medicare who hit the catastrophic period to pay nothing out of pocket, "so really relieve a huge burden on our senior citizens", Azar said.

This is "just the beginning", Trump concluded, promising new legislation and more actions that required help from Congress.

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Polls repeatedly find that reducing the high cost of prescription drugs is a priority for American voters.

The statement, which was as recently as last week the subject of a panel discussion at Asembia 2018, focused largely on bringing "drug prices under control".

Trump also attacked pharmaceutical companies that use patents to extend their monopolies and said he will end a gag rule insurers use to keep pharmacists from telling patients when they could save money by paying list price instead of an insurance co-payment.

"Our plan takes steps to derail the gravy train for special interests by ending Obamacares twisted incentives that actually encourage higher drug prices", Trump said.

Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the market will bear because the US government doesn't regulate medicine prices, unlike most other countries. Many Republicans in Congress have also opposed leveraging Medicare's buying power against drugmakers.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump for not targeting the pharmaceutical companies more aggressively and for his stance that other countries that now pay less than Americans for the same drugs should pay more. "There is very little new in the administration's plan, and little if anything that will make a difference in the near future, as the president has promised", Rachel Sachs, an associate professor of law at Washington University School of Law said in an email.

Trump called out industry middlemen and foreign countries for "freeloading." . The Congressional Budget Office says the CREATES Act reforms would cut government costs by $3.8 billion, and it would save consumers many billions more.

Among other changes, HHS said it will publish a side-by-side comparison of drug prices in the US and nations within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to examine "freeloading" by other nations with major economies.

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