Trump: 'One of My Greatest Priorities Is to Reduce the Price of Prescription Drugs'

By Susan Jones | January 31, 2018 | 5:30am EST
(Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - Almost a year to the day after meeting with pharmaceutical executives at the White House, President Trump is once again calling for lower prescription drug prices.

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, he said it's one of his highest priorities for the year ahead:

"One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs," the president said, drawing sustained applause from Republicans. Turning to the Democrat side of the aisle, Trump gestured for the seated lawmakers to join Republicans in their standing ovation.

"In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States, a nd it's very, very unfair. That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one my top priorities for the year. And prices will come down substantially. Watch!"

Even some Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, stood and applauded for that last remark.

Trump also called for speedier access to "breakthrough cures" and cheaper generic drugs, noting that the FDA in 2017 "approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.

"We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives," Trump continued.

"People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure -- I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the 'right to try.'"

In a meeting with pharmaceutical executives on January 31, 2017, President Trump said, "We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons...For Medicare, for Medicaid, we have to get the prices way down, so that's what we're going to be talking about.

"We're also going to be streamlining the process, so that, from your standpoint, when you have a drug, you can actually get it approved if it works, instead of waiting for many, many years. The U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country, but the pricing has been astronomical for our country. Gonna do better," Trump promised.

Trump said last year he's always been "disturbed" by the FDA's refusal to approve experimental drugs for terminally ill patients who are going to die within weeks regardless.

"So we're going to be changing a lot of -- a lot of the rules."

In March 2017, President Trump invited Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a Trump critic on most issues, to the White House to discuss their common interest in lowering prescription drug prices.

According to the White House, "President Trump expressed his desire to work with Congressman Cummings in a bipartisan fashion to ensure prescription drug prices are more affordable for all Americans, especially those who need lifesaving prescription medications. Reforming the Food and Drug Administration and reducing the regulatory burdens on drug manufacturers so as to enhance competition will help accomplish those goals."

That bipartisan effort was sidelined amid the ensuing battles over Obamacare and other issues that consumed Trump's first year in office.

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