Jul 12, 2019

White House regroups on drug prices

President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration is looking for Congress to implement major changes to how the federal government pays for drugs, following a week of setbacks to its drug pricing agenda.

Yes, but: The major exception to this is the administration's proposal to tie what Medicare pays for some drugs to rates in other countries.

  • President Trump also recently teased a similar executive order that would create a "favored nations clause," under which the U.S. would pay no more for a drug than the lowest price paid by another country.

Driving the news: The White House said late Wednesday night that it'd decided to kill its proposal to eliminate back-end rebates in Medicare Part D and Medicaid.

  • And on Monday, a judge halted the administration's requirement that drug ads on TV must include list prices, one of the only pieces of its agenda enacted so far.

What they're saying: A senior administration official said yesterday that the decision to walk away from the rebate rule was based partially on "lurching bipartisan progress toward something on the Hill," and a desire to not upset a pending deal.

  • But when it comes to Medicare Part D, "what we really want to do is modernize the entire benefit," including increasing payers' exposure to high drug costs.

There were also concerns about premiums rising under the rebate rule. The president "doesn’t want any risk that seniors’ premiums could go up," HHS Secretary Alex Azar told reporters yesterday, per Bloomberg.

  • Azar pointed to Congress' efforts on rebate reform and to give HHS the authority to require prices on TV ads.

One more thing: The administration has also expressed interest in a controversial measure that would limit how much drug prices can rise in Part D — an idea distasteful to both pharma and free-market Republicans.

Go deeper: Axios' Deep Dive on drug prices

Go deeper

How Democrats want to limit drug prices

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Democratic presidential candidates' plans to lower drug prices are much more aggressive than what the party has supported in the past.

Between the lines: There are big differences among the candidates' platforms, but the entire debate has shifted to the left.

Go deeperArrowAug 8, 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.

Go deeperArrowJul 26, 2019

House Democrats' drug bill coming in September

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Democrats will release a bill on drug pricing in September, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's top health care aide, Wendell Primus, said yesterday at a Brookings event.

Details: Primus said the bill will focus on the most expensive drugs — primarily, those that have been on the market a long time and still don't have any competition.

Go deeperArrowJul 23, 2019