In what he described Friday as "the most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people", President Donald Trump ignored every step that would make a real difference. Over the past year, drug companies have sought to deflect criticisms of their prices by blaming a secretive tier of middleman industries - such as pharmacy benefit managers, which negotiate drug prices - for the role they play in prices.
"Right now, we don't have a truly free market when it comes to drug pricing, and in too many cases, that's driving prices to unaffordable levels for some patients", Gottlieb said in a speech last week.
The US spent $1,443 per capita on pharmaceutical costs in 2016, compared to a range of $466 to $939 in 10 other high income countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada and Japan, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"This plan will lower prices in the near term and continue to lower prices in different ways over the next several years", said Sen.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the price of drug stocks actually went up after Trump's speech. "Health policy experts like this idea because it reduces the burden on patients with serious chronic illnesses and spreads the expense of needed medications across the entire insured population", The New York Times said.
Mr. Trump also said he would try to make foreign governments pay more to buy drugs created through USA innovation.
But Trump has since abandoned ideas to lower drug costs he supported during the campaign, including allowing the government's Medicare plan for older Americans to negotiate prices directly with drugmakers, and enabling US consumers to import lower-cost medicines from other countries. The blueprint also does not call for allowing Americans to import cheaper drugs from foreign countries. According to statistics of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States has the highest annual health expenditures of any industrialized country, at almost $10,000 per capita, with drugs prices playing a major role.
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Industry officials said they believed top Trump officials had leaned on their own experience in the business about what the administration now calls "gaming of regulatory processes", but that they were reluctant to impose deeper changes seen as harming drug innovation and access.
But This Might Be About Politics More Than Results: "The president's tough talk on drug prices will no doubt be popular with the public".
"On the negative side, it's a bunch of questions, not a specific plan for how to proceed". Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation asked on Twitter. Health Secretary Alex Azar said the Food and Drug Administration would immediately examine requiring that information in TV ads. Indeed, a list of the actions he left out of his "blueprint" could serve as a guide to good policy.
Drugmakers generally can charge as much as the market will bear because the US government doesn't regulate medicine prices, unlike most other countries.
Ultimately, the Plan Could Have a Very Limited Effect: "This is not doing anything to fundamentally change the drug supply chain or the drug pricing system", Gerard Anderson, a health policy professor at Johns Hopkins University, told CNN before the blueprint's release.
Other pharmacy-benefit-manager industry officials, including from CVS Health, said they already pass along rebates to millions of consumers and also use all rebates to lower premiums. Healthcare investors had braced for months for more direct attempts to regulate US prices that would cut into industry profits. "I'm shocked!" tweeted Michael Linden of the liberal Roosevelt Institute.
In the Democrats weekly address Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says the President's tax cuts have put 50-billion-dollars into the pockets of their CEO's and top investors through stock buy-backs.