Drug pricing politics aren't dead
President Trump released an executive order on Sunday ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to begin the process of limiting what Medicare pays for prescription drugs relative to other countries.
Why it matters: It's September of an election year. That means that this executive order is, at best, a statement of Trump's intention to keep trying to achieve something big on drug prices should he get a second term.
- But given that he's had four years already to act on what was also a big issue in 2016, there's plenty of reason to be skeptical of this ever translating into official policy.
- "President Trump's executive order on drug pricing does not by itself do anything. It has to be followed up by regulations, which will take time. Trump has a history of bold talk on drug prices, only to pull back when it comes to putting actual regulations in place," the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt tweeted.
Details: The order calls for Medicare to receive the "most-favored-nation" price for certain drugs.
- This price is defined as "the lowest price, after adjusting for volume and differences in national gross domestic product, for a pharmaceutical product that the drug manufacturer sells in a member country of the [OECD] that has a comparable per-capita gross domestic product."
The bottom line: Trump and Joe Biden have both pitched aggressive drug pricing policies — a good reminder that once we get the pandemic under control, the issue is bound to become front-and-center again.