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Quest to Lower Drug Prices Pits Trump Against Formidable Opponents

By Christopher Cheney  
   March 06, 2017

Political Hurdles
Although allowing government agencies to negotiate drug prices makes sense from an economic perspective, it would present the president with a harsh political reality: "Pharma is one of the biggest lobbying groups in the country, so this would be a hard change," Ishmael says.

Even with fellow Republicans controlling Congress, Trump will struggle to convince GOP lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices, says Erin Fox, PharmD, director of the Drug Information Service at Salt Lake City, Utah-based University of Utah Health Care.

"Republicans controlled both houses of Congress under most of President Obama's administration, and they did nothing then," she says.

"It is not realistic to think that anything really significant will be done to achieve meaningful drug-pricing regulations unless there is some type of 'nuclear option' such as Trump supporting a single-payer approach to healthcare and dissolving every insurance company in the country. I doubt he could do that."

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Any regulatory route that the White House pursues to reduce drug prices would encounter a robust roadblock in Congress, Fox says.

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.

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