Will Trump's drug prices plan make a difference for patients?


President Trump today called for "tougher negotiation, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter", in a statement on lowering drug prices.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a White House briefing that numerous actions the government was considering would not require the US Congress, but could take place through executive action within months.

Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said he believes that the Trump administration weakened its proposals by leaving out any provision that would let Medicare itself bargain for lower prices directly with the drug manufacturers.

He disparaged the culture of Washington, DC, that allowed "middle-men" and political lobbyists to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars to keep costs high by using government.

President Donald Trump and his health secretary are laying out new proposals created to reduce drug prices, including a requirement that drugmakers disclose the cost of their medicines in television advertisements.

"It's unfair and it's ridiculous and it's not going to happen any longer", he added, indicating that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would be calling on America's trading partners to insist they pay more for prescription drugs.

President Trump on Friday delivered a long-awaited speech outlining his administration's blueprint for lowering prescription drug prices.

"They send us a bill, we write a check", Azar said. "Not one that taxes and takes advantage of our patients and our consumers and our citizens".

Instead, the administration plans to pursue a raft of old and new measures meant to improve competition and transparency in the notoriously complex drug pricing system.

Require Medicare Part D drug plans to share a minimum portion of drug rebates with patients.

Trump's approach that avoids a direct confrontation with the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, but it could also underwhelm Americans seeking relief from escalating prescription costs. But it doesn't propose giving Medicare Part D the power to negotiate prices like Medicaid does, a measure Democrats wanted badly and the industry most feared.

Some of the administration's longer-term priorities include restricting use of rebates, creating incentives for drug makers to lower list prices in Medicare, and investigating tools to address foreign government practices that it said could be harming innovation and driving up U.S. prices.

Unfortunately, hiking drug prices in the rest of the world will have little effect on Americans' prescription costs, health policy experts say. A drug maker will negotiate with the entity paying for the drug, which, in the USA, is often a pharmacy benefits manager, such as Express Scripts, or a health plan administered by a business or a union.

But during Trump's first year in office, the pharmaceutical industry's top lobby group boosted its spend by 30% to work on patent issues, importation, Medicare negotiations and more. He noted that Alex Azar, Secretary of HHS, "used to run [a drug company], and nobody knows the system better than Alex".

Public outrage over drug costs has been growing for years as Americans face pricing pressure from all sides: New medicines for life-threatening diseases often launch with prices exceeding $100,000 per year.

He also took aim at small pharmaceutical companies who buy up off-patent generic drugs and raise the prices sharply.

Explore whether government health programs should pay different prices for the same drug, depending on the condition a patient is taking it for.

President Trump's blueprint stops short of allowing Medicare to negotiate its own prices, something the President campaigned on and something Varun Vaidya with the University of Toledo's College of Pharmacy says could bring down prices.