Quest to Lower Drug Prices Pits Trump Against Formidable Opponents

Christopher Cheney, March 6, 2017

"A lot of Republicans, especially the Tea Party Republicans, are against regulations. So, it is very unlikely that new regulations will be adopted, even if they could do some good."

In fact, President Trump signed an executive order in February designed to cut what he called "job-killing regulations."

Importation of Drugs Problematic
There are some regulatory approaches to reducing drug prices that the Trump administration should avoid, Ishmael and Fox say.

"There has been talk of buying drugs from overseas—that gives me an ulcer," says Ishmael, who is a first-generation immigrant and holds dual American-Nigerian citizenship.

"Part of my concern about importing medication from outside the country is we would have to create another layer of bureaucracy to investigate these drugs to make sure they are safe."

"I have lived and worked in a Third World country," he says. "Medications that you get in a Third World country are not like the medications you get here. They are often selling you pretty much a placebo."

Even importing brand-name medications from countries such as Canada is a poor price-reduction strategy, Fox says.

"The reason Canada's drug prices are cheaper is because they have a single-payer healthcare system and they negotiate prices."

"Drug companies are not stupid" she says. "They know exactly how many drugs they sell to Canada, and they are not going to sell more than that to Canada just because Americans want to buy cheaper drugs from Canada."

Christopher Cheney

Christopher Cheney is the senior finance editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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