May 14, 2018

Trump pledges action on prescription drug costs

Courtesy of Dreamstime.com
President Donald Trump is pledging to combat the high cost of prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs, which are eating up more health care dollars, are the target of new cost control efforts by President Donald Trump, who said Friday that fixing "unacceptable" prices is one of his top priorities.

At a press briefing in Washington D.C., Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that since Trump took office in January 2017, the Food and Drug Administration "has approved more generic drugs than ever before in history, saving $8.8 billion in the first year."

Azar said the administration plans to take actions to increase competition and reduce anticompetitive practices, drive harder bargains on behalf of seniors in Medicare, and explore ways to require price listings in prescription drug TV ads. The administration's new blueprint also calls for greater disclosure to patients of copayments so that they can know about pricing -- and alternatives -- before they fill prescriptions.

"There are over 50 actions that we have in the blueprint," Azar said, according to a transcript. "And this, again, not one and done. We are learning, we are open, we're hearing. We want this to be an active, ongoing process. This doesn't get solved tomorrow. It's going to take years of restructuring the system. But there are big, they are bold steps. This is the most comprehensive attack on prescription drug affordability in history, by any president."

Most of the actions in the blueprint can be accomplished through executive branch actions or regulatory changes, the secretary said.

In a statement, Congressman Richard Neal said, "It is encouraging to see the President of the United States use the power of his office to begin a national dialogue on this issue, but far more must be done than what President Trump outlined today. Today's proposal stops short of providing meaningful solutions that will solve this problem and will not prevent the types of abuses caused by bad actors. I am also disappointed that the president has abandoned a signature campaign promise to demand lower prices through a Medicare expenditure."

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