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Trump's Drug Pricing Plan Praised, Panned, Parsed

By John Commins  
   May 11, 2018

Stakeholders said they appreciate the administration's vow to tackle rising drug costs, but they want to hear the specifics on when, where, and how these initiatives will be implemented.

President Donald Trump received a mixed reaction from various stakeholders Friday after he unveiled a multifaceted—but vaguely outlined—proposal to reduce prescription drug costs for consumers.


Related: Trump Takes Aim at PBMs in Drug Pricing Speech


Here's a sample of what stakeholders had to say:

  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America CEO Stephen J. Ubl: "These far-reaching proposals could fundamentally change how patients access medicines and realign incentives across the entire prescription drug supply chain. While some of these proposals could help make medicines more affordable for patients, others would disrupt coverage and limit patients' access to innovative treatments."

    "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. We also must avoid changes to Medicare Part B that could raise costs for seniors and limit their access to lifesaving treatments."

    "Misaligned incentives in the supply chain are resulting in savings for middlemen, but higher costs for patients. After negotiations, medicine prices increased just 1.9% last year, below the rate of inflation, and yet patients' out-of-pocket costs continue to skyrocket. Giving patients access to negotiated discounts at the pharmacy counter and protecting seniors in Medicare Part D from catastrophic costs would help make medicines more affordable."
     
  • Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association: "The AHA appreciates many of the 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. These are good first steps and additional actions are needed. The AHA has specific recommendations to further increase competition, transparency, access and value, while fostering innovation."

    "We also urge the Administration and the Congress to oppose any efforts to scale back the 340B drug savings program, which for over 25 years has been critical in helping hospitals stretch scarce federal resources to expand access to healthcare services in communities with a significant number of vulnerable patients. 340B is a critical tool in the toolbox that provides drugs at lower prices to those on the front lines of patient care."
     
  • AARP Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond: "We welcome a broad look across the entire drug supply chain to find ways to help drive down drug prices. AARP also strongly believes that it is critical that any proposals to lower prescription drug costs don’t simply shift the costs around in the health care system without addressing the root problem: the prices set by pharmaceutical companies."
     
  • Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen: "What Trump laid out is policy that Big Pharma can love—and no wonder, because Big Pharma wrote it. Trump abandoned his campaign commitment to Medicare Part D negotiation—which would save $16 billion a year or more—and shamefully aims to beat up on other countries to make them pay more, doing nothing for American consumers but forcing more rationing overseas. Those are the top lines. That’s what matters, and everything else is noise around the margins."
     
  • 340B Health: "We applaud President Trump’s efforts to rein in the high cost of prescription drugs, but are deeply concerned that his administration’s continued misguided attacks on the 340B drug pricing program will lead to higher drug costs and less access to care for vulnerable patients. The administration’s proposals are based on a faulty understanding of the 340B program and the pharmaceutical market. The notion that 340B discounts are raising drug prices is simply false. Drug companies set the prices for their products and they, alone, decide how high those prices go. The president’s proposal to cut Medicare payments to 340B hospitals violates the Medicare and 340B statutes. It cuts $1.6 billion from the safety net and does nothing to reduce drug prices for seniors and the disabled."
     
  • Express Scripts: “President Trump rightly recognizes drug companies charge way too much, and their prices need to come down. In particular, we were pleased that the Administration recognized and endorsed policies that we have advocated for over the years, including increasing access to biosimilars, increasing the number of generic drugs available, and eliminating gag clauses and clawbacks -- anti-patient practices that we do not engage in."

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.


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