Jul 26, 2019

Trump's next move on lowering drug prices

Phot: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House is preparing another big executive order on drug prices, Reuters scooped last night.

The big picture: Citing industry sources who had discussed the plan with the administration, Reuters says that it would likely seek to lower prices in Medicare Part D, which covers drugs you pick up at the pharmacy counter. The administration's most sweeping proposal to date — to piggyback off of the lower prices in European countries — was limited to Part B, which covers drugs administered by a doctor.

  • It's not clear whether the new Part D proposal would also rely on international pricing, per Reuters. Part D is much bigger than Part B.

Between the lines: It's probably no coincidence that this threat is being floated just as the White House is trying to build support for the Senate Finance Committee's drug-pricing bill, despite Republican objections.

  • In fact, Sen. Chuck Grassley made that point explicitly, The Hill reports.
  • "Who knows what he's going to do at the last minute,” he said, referring to Trump. “If he would join forces with Pelosi, look at what that would do to everything that we Republicans stand for."
  • “It seems to me that the Grassley-Wyden approach is a very moderate approach [compared] to what could come out,” he added.

Where it stands in the Senate: Finance approved the Grassley-Wyden bill yesterday, but the proceedings left no doubt that there are still stark divisions within the GOP over drug pricing, and more resistance than we're used to seeing on policies Trump supports.

The intrigue: Nine of the committee's 15 Republicans voted against the bill. All of the Democrats supported it, leading to a final vote of 19-9.

  • The bill's proposal to cap price increases within Part D is clearly the biggest sticking point for Republicans. An amendment to strike that provision, offered by Sen. Pat Toomey, failed on a 14-14 vote.

What's next: Pharma's best bet is probably to stop the Senate from passing anything.

  • That would prevent an eventual conference between the House and Senate, in which Pelosi and Trump could make good on Grassley's predictions and strike up an alliance (if she wanted to help Trump claim a win on drug prices, which is far from a sure thing).
  • But that's a tall order, so expect pharma and its allies to keep trying to water down the Senate package while waging that bigger-picture fight.

The bottom line: “This bill is not anywhere near action on the floor,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said yesterday, per The Hill.

Go deeper: Axios' Deep Dive on drug pricing

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.