While Trump may have complained repeatedly about the extremely high price of drugs during his Presidential campaign, calling the big pharma companies out of control and claiming that they were getting away with murder, he also filled up his administration with ex-industry executives as well as consultants. "The middlemen became very, very rich".
The HHS plan broke proposals into four areas: increased competition, better negotiation, incentives for lower list prices, and lower out-of-pocket costs. The sigh of relief could be heard throughout industry and the investment community, providing a lift for industry stock prices. Under the "American Patients First" blueprint, the administration will challenge "global freeloading" through actions that reduce price disparities and spread the burden for incentivizing new drug development between the USA and other developed nations.
And HHS will begin merging the part of the plan that covers doctor-administered drugs - known as Part B - with its prescription-drug benefit portion, or Part D, where private plans are able to negotiate down prices. The President also called for the United States trade representative to address this "injustice" in trade discussion with all trading partners.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday will release new versions of its Medicare and Medicaid drug price dashboards that HHS says will have more detail on what the programs are paying for the medications they buy.
President Donald Trump announced his blueprint to lower prescription drug prices on May 11.
Hoping to preserve momentum after Mr. Trump outlined his plan Friday, the secretary said health plans operating under Medicare - the insurance program for seniors - will be allowed to negotiate deeper discounts for costly drugs that sit in "protected classes" and account for 10 percent of what the country spends on drug each year.
As it stands, the government is being billed sticker price, plus a markup, for drugs under Part B, so Mr. Trump wants to shift them out to fulfill his campaign promise to conduct "smart bidding" on drugs.
Trump, in a speech at the White House on Friday, said the result of his actions will be "tougher negotiation, more competition and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter".
Azar also challenged drug companies to start putting their prices in television ads before they may be forced to do so. Implementing such a program, though, raises many questions about what pricing data would be disclosed and under what authority.
"We know that certain brand-name manufacturers are abusing the system by blocking access to samples, and hiding behind FDA's rules when they do it. FDA is going to begin publicly identifying drug companies suspected of engaging in these abusive practices". The list of actions drawn up for the department include advancing biosimilars and generics to boost competition as well as streamlining and accelerating the process for over-the-counter drug approvals. The top priority is to permit Medicare to use its purchasing power to negotiate prices directly with plans and manufacturers.
Azar said that importing drugs from overseas was a gimmick because there was no way to ensure the drugs weren't counterfeit and "Canada's drug market is simply too small to bring down prices here". "This is the most comprehensive attack on prescription drug affordability in history, by any president".
Mitchell and Levitt both doubt that drug companies can be shamed into lowering prices and losing profit.
But most of these changes are long-term "further actions", Raymond James analyst Michael Baker said in a note. The administration will also seek feedback on other potential policies.