Trump Unveils His Blueprint for Lower Drug Prices

By Melanie Arter | May 11, 2018 | 7:13 PM EDT

President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

( - President Donald Trump announced Friday that his administration is taking “sweeping action” to lower the price of prescription drugs in the U.S. through his “Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices.”

Trump was joined in the White House Rose Garden by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to explain the plan, which calls for streamlining and accelerating the approval process for over-the-counter medicine, and speeding up access to and lowering the cost of new drugs, among other things.

“Today my administration is launching the most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs to the American people,” Trump said. He said he wanted to work on it since the first day he took office.

“We will have tougher negotiation, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter, and it’ll start to take effect very soon,” the president said.

“My administration has already taken significant steps to get drug prices under control. We reformed the drug discount program for safety net hospitals to save senior citizens hundreds of millions of dollars on drugs this year alone. We’re also increasing competition and reducing regulatory burdens so drugs can be gotten to the market quicker and cheaper. We’re very much eliminating the middle men,” he said.

“Last year, the FDA approved more than 1,000 low cost generics - the most in history, which has already saved the American people nearly $9 billion,” Trump said. “Next, we’re going to take one of the biggest obstacles to affordable medicine - the tangled web of special interest. Not too many are sitting here today, but they used to be here all the time.

“The drug lobby is making an absolute fortune at the expense of American consumers. No industry spends more money on lobbying than the pharmaceutical health products industry. Last year, these companies spent nearly $280 million on lobbyists. That’s more than tobacco, oil, and defense contractors combined,” he said.

“Our plan will end the dishonest double dealing that allows the middle man to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed onto consumers and patients,” the president said.

“Health insurance companies and other providers spent nearly another $200 million to protect the status quo and to keep prices artificially high, and they’ve been very successful doing it for many, many years. Everyone involved in the broken system - the drugmakers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers and many others contribute to the problem,” Trump said.

“Government has also been part of the problem, because previous leaders turned a blind eye to this incredible abuse, but under this administration we are putting American patients first,” the president said.

The president’s blueprint calls for banning the pharmacist gag rule, “which punishes pharmacists for telling patients how to save money.”

“This is a total rip-off, and we are ending it,” Trump said. “We are getting tough on the drug makers that exploit our patent laws to choke out competition. Our patent system will reward innovation, but it will not be used as a shield to protect unfair monopolies. The FDA will also speed up the approval process for over-the-counter medicines so that patients can get more medicines without prescriptions.”

“Finally, as we demand fairness for American patients at home, we will also demand fairness overseas. When federal governments extort unreasonably low prices from US drug makers, Americans have to pay more to subsidize the enormous cost of research and development,” the president said.

“In some cases, medicine that costs a few dollars in a foreign country costs hundreds of dollars in America for the same pill with the same ingredients in the same package made in the same plant, and that is unacceptable,” he said.

“You can look at some of the countries. Their medicine is a tiny fraction what the medicine costs in the USA. It’s unfair, and it’s ridiculous, and it’s not going to happen any longer. It’s time to end the global freeloading once and for all,” Trump said.

To this end, he directed U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer “to make fixing this injustice a top priority with every trading partner.”

“We have great power over the trading partners. You’re seeing that already,” Trump said. “America will not be cheated any longer, and especially will not be cheated by foreign countries. The American people deserve a health care system that takes care of them, not one that taxes and takes advantage of our patients and our consumers and our citizens.”

“These reforms are just the beginning,” he said. “In the coming weeks, we will work with Congress to pass legislation that will save Americans even more money at the pharmacy. For that, we need the help of Congress, and we think it will be forthcoming.”


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