Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Vt. delegation: President's prescription drug plan misses mark

Vt. delegation: President's prescription drug plan misses mark

President Donald Trump, took on a campaign promise Friday, to lower the price of prescription drugs. "They're taking it from both sides, getting compensated from insurance companies and from the drug companies they've negotiating against", he said. The administration will also take on what Trump called "one of the biggest obstacles to affordable medicine: the tangled web of special interests", which he said contributed millions of dollars to maintaining the status quo. "They won't be so rich anymore".

Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the market will bear because the USA government doesn't regulate medicine prices, unlike most other developed countries.

The White House proposals also include speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter medications so patients can buy more drugs without prescriptions.

"The drug lobby is making an absolute fortune at the expense of American consumers", Trump said in remarks in the Rose Garden. "The elephant in the room is, are we going to have a system that directly controls prices like the European system does", asked Coleen Klasmeier, head of the food, drug and medical device regulatory practice at law firm Sidley Austin. But administration officials offered few specifics on how that would work. "It's time to end the global freeloading once and for all". Instead, the administration wants to move high-cost drugs into the Medicare Part D program and give plan sponsors "significantly" more power to negotiate with manufacturers. HHS will go after pharmaceutical companies that try to stop generics from being developed by blocking access to their products and studies, Azar said.

"Let's assume all of the other countries in the world agreed to pay the same price we do-that doesn't guarantee or assure us that the drug company would lower the price in the USA", said Stephen Shondelmeyer, head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems at the University of Minnesota. However, the organization criticized the administration because the plan leaves in place a 2% sequester cut made to Medicare reimbursement for cancer drugs in 2013. "They say, we're benevolent, we represent 60 million people, and we're going to negotiate [prices] all together". "The proposed changes to Medicare Part D could undermine the existing structure of the program that has successfully held down costs and provided seniors with access to comprehensive prescription drug coverage", the drug lobby said in a statement.

"It took decades to erect this very complex, interwoven system", Azar said in a briefing following the speech. "They see this is a series of possible options, incremental administrative steps that maybe lower some patients' drug costs but don't actually get at the company's abilities to set prices".

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In the drug discount program, Azar said, drugs in a protected class to get a discount. In the U.S., the task of negotiating drug prices is left to individual care providers rather than a single, large, publicly funded buyer.

Pharmacy benefit managers are getting compensated by both drug makers and insurers.

CVS, which runs a large PBM, said policies that lowered drug prices would be aligned with its business model and are unlikely to have a negative impact on profitability.

Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association: "The AHA appreciates numerous actions that the Administration has proposed, such as incentives to speed up the arrival of generic drugs into the market and reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients". "We are very much eliminating middlemen", Trump said.

"It's hard to know why Germany or France or Australia would agree to something like that", said Professor Jack Hoadley of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute. American Patients First included a proposal to hold drugmakers accountable for their price increases, which is the subject of several bills in statehouses across the nation.

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