President Donald Trump signaled a renewed effort within his administration to lower the cost of pharmaceuticals.
He unveiled the blueprints during remarks Friday at the White House Rose Garden.
One of the key targets of his plan is the pharmacy benefit management industry, which employs negotiators working to set drug prices on behalf of healthcare providers.
“We’re very much eliminating the middlemen,” Trump said. “The middlemen became very, very rich. Right? Whoever those middlemen were — and a lot of people never even figured it out — they’re rich. They won’t be so rich anymore.”
As the Washington Examiner reported, Trump did not explain specifically how he would eliminate a multi-billion-dollar sector of the health care industry. His criticism of pharmacy benefit managers, however, followed similar statements by others in his administration.
Both Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb have recently accused those in the profession of creating a rigged system in which they become wealthy at the expense of consumers.
Despite the direct assault on the status quo, some pharmacy benefit managers believe their jobs might be even more relevant after Trump’s new policies are enforced.
Express Scripts, an industry leader, released a statement following Trump’s speech focusing on his remarks about the rising costs of prescription drugs.
“It is clear, based on today’s comments, that our role has never been more important to improving healthcare,” the statement read.
Trump reserved plenty of blame, however, for others he believes fostered the environment for drug prices to skyrocket.
“Everyone involved in the broken system — the drug makers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, and many others — contribute to the problem,” he said. “Government has also been part of the problem because previous leaders turned a blind eye to this incredible abuse.”
He cited several broad proposals from his plan, including the restructure of Medicare’s prescription coverage plan.
“It also gives Medicare Part D plans new tools to negotiate lower prices for more drugs, and make sure that Medicare Part D incentives encourage drug companies to keep prices low,” Trump said.
The proposal would roll back current restrictions prohibiting pharmacists from informing consumers about cheaper alternatives to their prescribed medication.
“Our plan will ban the pharmacist gag rule, which punishes pharmacists for telling patients how to save money,” he said.
The president also took aim at foreign governments, which he claimed “extort” American companies through their negotiating positions.
“When foreign governments extort unreasonably low prices from U.S. companies, Americans have to pay more to subsidize the enormous costs of research and development,” he said.
Trump went on to complain that in “some of the countries … the medicine is a tiny fraction of what the medicine costs in the U.S.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.