Nov 20, 2020 - Health

Trump announces rules aimed at lowering prescription drug prices

President Donald Trump

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Friday announced new regulations aimed at lowering the prices Americans pay for many prescription drugs.

Between the lines: It is unclear whether the rules can overcome expected legal challenges from the pharmaceutical industry, or if the incoming Biden administration will accept the regulations.

Details: The finalized rules include what is called the "most favored nation" approach, which links what Medicare pays for some drugs to the lowest price paid by other economically advanced countries.

  • "Ironically, the legal authority for Trump’s action comes from the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health care overhaul he’s still trying to repeal," AP notes.
  • The second regulation requires drug companies that make brand-name medications give Medicare patients the drug rebates that currently go to pharmacy benefit managers. That proposal was killed in 2019 by the Trump administration over concerns it'd raise seniors' premiums, but was revived earlier this year.

What he's saying: "Together these reforms will save American patients many, many billions of dollars every single year," Trump said from the White House.

  • "For generations, the American people have been abused by Big Pharma and their army of lawyers, lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for politicians," he added.
  • “The drug companies don’t like me too much. But we had to do it."
  • “I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep it."
  • Trump campaigned in 2016 on lowering prescription drug prices, but he has dropped or backed off from some of his more aggressive proposals since taking office.

The other side: The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a statement to AP that the industry was weighing “all options to stop this reckless attack on the companies working around the clock to beat COVID-19.”

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, called the "most favored nation" rule "harmful" and "flawed."
    • “The Most Favored Nation rule would implement harmful price controls, which could jeopardize access to new [life-saving] medicines at time when we need them most and undermine the ability of our most innovative companies to produce the next breakthrough treatment or cure," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley in a statement.
    • “U.S. leadership in biopharmaceutical research and development ... has proven its value in the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with recent announcements of two viable vaccines for FDA approval, and more in development," Bradley added.
    • "Unfortunately, bad policy proposals threaten to sabotage those capabilities just as the U.S. industry is delivering urgently needed solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic."

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