President Trump Says Lays Out Plan For Lower Drug Prices

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

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

President Donald Trump announced on Friday a plan to lower the price of prescription drugs that promotes increased competition and eliminates the "middlemen" who he said prey on the current system. (NYSE:ESRX) also rose, climbing about 2.6 percent to close at $72.80 on Friday, as the company struck a populist tone in a statement saying that it "stands up to drug companies and drug stores to make sure that everyone - patients, employers, health plans, unions and public programs - get a fair deal for the money they spend". That includes Azar, a former top executive at Eli Lilly. "There's a lot of tinkering around the edges", the lobbyist said. The XLV Health Care ETF, the largest health care exchange-traded fund, gained 1.5 percent.

The blueprint, which echoes numerous ideas first put forward in Trump's FY 2019 proposed budget and the White House Council of Economic Advisers drug pricing report, focuses on four areas: lowering high list prices set by manufacturers; equipping government and private payers with new tools to negotiate prices; lowering out-of-pocket costs for consumers and taking steps to stop other countries from "freeloading" off of American innovation.

Rolling out an ambitious blueprint to significantly cut the cost of prescription medication here and overseas, Trump announced he is directing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to make it a priority to prevent foreign countries from forcing American drugmakers to provide medicines at drastically lower prices than in the United States.

Director of Memorial Sloan Kettering's Center for Health Policy and Outcomes in New York, Dr. Peter Bach joins "The Daily Briefing" with insight on the need to lower prices of prescription drugs.

The plans also emphasises increasing competition among drug manufacturers, by speeding up approvals for generic drugs and cracking down on the "gaming" of intellectual property patents. It also seeks to promote uptake of biosimilars.

I sat down with Steve Ubl, CEO of the drug industry's main lobbying group, PhRMA, yesterday preceding Trump's speech.

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". "It will only raise drug company profits".

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But the White House plan largely drops some of the most aggressive, populist attacks Trump proposed on the campaign trail, mostly sparing the pharmaceutical industry he previously accused of "getting away with murder". As things stand, insurers say consumers benefit from rebates through lower costs.

The President Takes on Softer Targets.

President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar revealed their blueprint to lower the price of prescription drugs. "The drug prices have gone through the roof". "We will have tougher negotiation, more competition and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter".

PhRMA immediately cautioned that any changes to the system could potentially limit access to new drugs. "It'd be nice if there was bipartisan congressional support to take sensible steps to reduce drug pricing, but politics obviously complicate matters", Hyman said.

Trump called out those companies in his speech: "Our plan will end the dishonest double-dealing that allows the middleman to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed onto consumers and patients", Trump said. Specifically, the blueprint calls for HHS to leverage the Competitive Acquisition Program for Part B. He gave no timeframe for more concrete steps. So-called PBMs negotiate drug benefits for insurance plans and employers.

The idea is one of many old and new proposals outlined in a White House blueprint unveiled in a long-awaited speech by the president. "We're not calling for Medicare negotiation in the way that Democrats have called for", one of the senior officials told reporters Thursday night.

The drug industry's top lobbying arm, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, spent almost $26 million to sway federal decision makers past year, according to records tallied by Center for Responsive Politics. Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas dismissed Trump's plan as "a sugar-coated nothing pill".

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