Nov 25, 2019 - Health

Impeachment hasn't dulled Trump's interest in drug prices

Illustration of a giant pill casting a shadow over congress.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration is pushing ahead with its drug pricing agenda even as impeachment sucks up all the political oxygen, with plans to advance some of its most ambitious regulations and to work with Congress on legislation.

Why it matters: Drug pricing remains a huge issue that both parties want to run on in 2020. For Trump, there's a lot of pressure: His most ambitious proposals have either been tabled, are tied up in the courts or have yet to be implemented.

Driving the news: The administration is planing to have the next regulatory phase of the international pricing index — a notice of proposed rulemaking — ready to issue within a month, a senior administration official said.

  • That leaves plenty of time for the industry to kill the proposal, but it's a signal that the administration isn't yet backing down from the proposal in the face of intense opposition from the drug industry.
  • The administration has also been working with states on potential rules to allow drugs to be imported from other countries.

The administration is also working with Congress on drug pricing legislation, and thinks that it's still possible that the Senate passes a bill by the end of the year.

  • The official said that the administration is working with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden to add a monthly cap on what seniors pay out-of-pocket for drugs through Medicare.
  • The administration also wants change the way that bill would take money from drugmakers, to address industry concerns that it would hit some drugs and therapeutic areas harder than others.

The bottom line: Trump certainly has a political incentive to get something done on drug prices, but some of these policies could go a long way toward helping Americans — especially seniors — afford their drugs.

Yes, but: These administrative actions haven't yet been formally proposed, and could take years to finalize — meaning there's no guarantee they'll actually happen before the 2020 election.

Go deeper: Scoop: Trump administration pushing new drug spending cap

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