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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."

Go deeper: Drug pricing politics aren't dead

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 15, 2021 - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 16, 2021 - Health

Majority gives Dems new health care goals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A narrow Democratic majority increases the odds that significant health care legislation could become law.

What they're saying ... The Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt listed health policies that Democrats may enact with a Senate majority:

  • Nullifying the pending GOP lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
  • Making ACA premiums more affordable.
  • Offering incentives for states to expand Medicaid.
  • Allowing the government to negotiate drug prices.
  • Eliminating cost-sharing for coronavirus treatment.

Who to watch: Most Democratic policymaking on health care will come from the administration — specifically President-elect Biden's pick to head up the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.

  • Biden has also announced a task force, led by Marcella Nunez-Smith, on racial disparities in health care — a longstanding problem that got more urgent during the pandemic. 

Facebook to lift political ad ban imposed after November election

Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook will finally allow advertisers to resume running political and social issue ads in the U.S. on Thursday, according to a company update.

The big picture: Facebook and rival Google instituted political ad bans to slow the spread of misinformation and curb confusion around the presidential election and its aftermath.