Health & Wellness / Money / Politics

How Refreshing! President Trump Again Focuses on Reducing Drug Prices

drug

President Trump has done it again.  He said he would.  He laid the groundwork for delivering, then delivered.  Prescription drugs are needed by 7-in-10 Americans, and more than half take at least two.  Until recently, pricing was a mystery – almost a state secret.  President Trump said “enough” – and is mandating transparency.  Expect the effect to be measurable and positive for those who rely on prescription drugs – which is, at one point or another, all of us! 

Here is the nutshell version.  After innovating in other ways, the President’s team has turned to drug advertisements.  Advertising tied to prescription drugs is typically costly, clever, compelling and – in gentle pastel colors and slow motion – remarkably inviting.  But you never hear about costs.  Those, one assumes, will be covered by others – so why bother mentioning them.  Right? 

Not so fast, says the White House.  With or without ads, prescriptions flow from doctor to patient to pharmacy, tending to be covered in part or whole by insurance, either through an employer or the federal government.  But how are costs of prescription medicines determined?  By whom?  On what basis? How often?  With what inputs, mark-ups, incentives to sellers, rebates passed or withheld, what chance for savings – or added premiums – on consumers?  In effect, this is what the Trump Administration asked.  They are getting answers – for us.

In a manner of speaking, the Trump Administration is doing the bidding of consumers, trying to force transparency, greater clarity, and lower prices by shining a bright light on drug pricing.  Specifically, as commercial prices recoup research costs and turn profits, there must also be a check on these prices. 

That is where President Trump’s leadership comes in.  Pursuant to executive directive, and led by his HHS Secretary, advertisements for drugs costing $35 dollars a month or more will soon have to include prices.  Since the market is competitive, prices will fall.

Moreover, this innovation works in tandem with other elements creating increased price transparency, such as forcing accountability on distributor rebates – encouraging them to be passed to end-users.  In this regard, the President has also accelerated bringing generics to market, and worked to fast-track life-saving treatments where possible.

In February, the President called on Congress to pass his ban on “backdoor deals” in which pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) require drug makers to pay fees to access their contracts of insured lives. If passed, an estimated $29 billion in “kickbacks” to PBMs would likely be passed to consumers.

Returning to the latest innovation, Secretary Alex Azar noted that beginning this summer all prescription drug advertising will include prices, injecting market competition into the oblique process, better informing consumers, and likely also lowering prices. Refreshing!

Are these pro-consumer efforts working?  While early to say, the indications are good. Data coming in suggest progress.  A report by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) last year found, for example, that “relative annual price growth for prescription drugs has slowed since January 2017.”  In other words, surprise-surprise, the Trump White House has gotten another industry’s full attention – on behalf of consumers.

One side effect of greater price transparency may be greater consumer discernment, reflection and balancing of options, as well as better decision-making about choice of drugs, under limited insurance policies.  Better information invariably leads to more informed decision-making by consumers, whether picking dinner, dogfood, of prescription drugs.

Perhaps most importantly, and offering renewed comfort, this administration is not looking the other way.   It is not content with corporate overreach and is unwilling to ignore high-priced pharmaceuticals – which affect seniors, especially.  This administration is not trying to line the pockets of drug-makers, distributors or federal bureaucrats.  They are focused on the consumer, who in the end – is the voter.  How refreshing!

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Read more articles by Robert B. Charles

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Rick J.

The President does it again, without help from the professional politicians from either party. GO PRESIDENT TRUMP!!!!
The next step is to return drug making from China back to the USA. Yes most drugs and the chemicals used in drugs
age made in China. It’s a matter of national security to return these back to the USA.

BajaRon

Trump is for America and American citizens. That’s why the left and establishment Republicans hate him so much… because they are not.

Go Trump!

Virginia Gilbertson

The President is always looking out for average Americans. Quite a change from the past! Hooray! Love him!

Frank S.

So, free-market competition and transparency is a big part of the solution? Wow, who’d have thunk?! Good for President Trump. Now watch the Dems try to take all, or most, of the credit. As an aside, I sure would like to know how many members of congress–on both sides of the aisle–have accepted funds from Big Pharma. I love Capitalism, but this is an example of it having run amuck.

Bonnie Hudgens

We have a great president!

Garland

President Trump has improved life for the American working man in so many ways. Yet we continue to have those who are working to remove him from office (all political) What a DISGRACE.

Helen Corey

Prescription for 1 pill for intestinal worm was prescribed. This 1 pill cost just over $1900.00. I called doctor to tell him I needed something less expensive. He had no idea the pill was that expensive. He found one for just under $200. Treatment requires 2 pills. I decided to do a little research online for the medication. The patent for the $1900 pill was bought by a company who jacked the price from $6 to over $1900. This is outrageous. Also called pharmacist who, upon questioning by me, said the over the counter (no prescription required) stuff was probably just as good. The over the counter stuff sells for under $20/4 adult treatments. Hope this government continues to investigate high cost of medication.

Sharon Michaud

Please….scripts are way too expensive for the average person even with insurance. Go Pres. Trump!

Geary Moore

I don’t know about the cost of my prescription drugs. I do know that the insurance company moved three of my drugs and two of my wife’s, from tier 2 to 3. This move caused the copay to increase from $5 to $40. That is $25 to $200, a move that erased our $48 raise that we got on our social security.

Wayne

I can`t wait to vote for President Trump again! Go Trump Go! 2020

Silas Longshot

How many times have we had to turn down a prescription while on medicare because the “co-pay” was $200- $300 per issue, and could only get the crap from ONE source? You would think that the insurance companies would be the ones howling for price transparency since they mostly foot the bills for millions of prescriptions a year. Probably they get a kick back from the drug industry.

Kathryn Pendergast Maunder

Thanks for info and a great job as our President

Denise

Hooray for President Trump making America great again!

patricia

Will the cost of the drug in an advertisement be presented in a font that is readable? I like the idea but don’t trust the drug companies because they need to keep the pricing hidden. It is my experience that most doctors do not know the cost of the drugs they prescribe.

Marie

Another promise trying to be kept.

Roger Reid

Every politician promises the same basic things. You know what they are. In my lifetime (82) 90% of those promises are still promises when their political careers are over. Both parties. Reagan tried and was more successful than most. Trump is the first I have seen who is delivering on those promises year after year. He has a talent for reading situations and judging people that is so rare that most of us have never seen it before. There are too many people who don’t like perpetual winners. Whether a sports team or a president.

Michael Cozzi

About time 💊💉drug prices are tohigh

Brenda Blunt

About time something is done! Thank you!!

Stephen Russell

Expand for ALL Prescription RX A-Z alone, compete for business

Morty Tupperman

I believe that the President and his administration will go to war over drug prices but I’m not holding my breath that they’ll succeed.