President Trump lays out his vision for lower drug prices

Donald Trump

The Trump administration has its sights on major changes to Medicare in its quest for lower drug prices

None of those ideas on its own is a magic bullet to lowering USA drug spending, which is higher per capita than in any other developed country. He also cited supply chain middlemen for getting "very rich" under the current system and promised regulatory and legislative changes to address the status quo.

In his remarks, Azar also revisited a number of ideas he and Trump unveiled in a Rose Garden address on Friday: eliminating so-called "gag clauses" that prevent pharmacies from alerting patients of potential savings; re-examining the role of pharmacy benefit managers; and forcing drug makers to include list prices in television advertisements.

But AARP said there's no "justifiable reason" for why Americans should have the world's highest drug costs.

President Donald Trump's "blueprint" for lowering prescription costs goes after pharmacy benefit managers but stops short of recommending Medicare-negotiated prices, a plank he campaigned on in 2016. Azar queried. That, he said, would give consumers more balanced information, and companies would face "a very different set of incentives for setting their prices". He said the proposed changes to Medicare Part D could undermine the programme's existing structure that has managed to hold down costs and provided seniors with access to comprehensive prescription drug coverage.

The Department of Health & Human Services will take "a range of immediate actions" to implement the blueprint, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House on Thursday. The president also pleased the industry by arguing that American drugmakers subsidize the cost of researching and developing new drugs, which other countries then take advantage of.

In fact, Trump said he has directed USA trade representative Bob Lighthizer to make it a top priority to end 'the global freeloading once and for all.' These reforms 'are just the beginning, ' according to Trump.

In his remarks, Azar outlined a presidential directive to "bring negotiation where it doesn't exist", merging Part B, Medicare's program for physician-administered drugs, with Part D. The Part D program was implemented in 2006 - when Azar was deputy health secretary and before he departed to become president of Eli Lilly's US subsidiary. In a call-in to the "Hugh Hewitt Show" on Monday morning, Azar suggested that moving Part B drugs into the Part D program could require legislation. "Simply put, the easiest way to lower costs would be for drug companies to lower their prices", PCMA said.

The federal government now pays providers 6% more than the average price of those medicines.

"This is a topic the president and I have discussed at great length", Azar said, "and the idea of direct negotiation in Medicare has come up". Allowing states to determine which drugs to cover would in theory allow them negotiate bigger discounts directly with manufacturers. One new proposal is to examine whether drugs that raise prices too often or too much can remain in the protected classes of Part D plans. And they propose to appoint a "price gouging" czar with authority to fine drug companies for raising prices beyond certain limits. "If we want to have a real market for drugs, why not have them disclose their prices in the ads?"

"We will have a tougher negotiation, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter, and it'll start to take effect very soon", Trump said.

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