WASHINGTON (AP) – In an effort to close a major unfinished business, the Trump administration has issued regulations that could reduce the prices Americans pay for many prescription drugs.
But in times of political uncertainty, it is difficult to say whether the rules will withstand the expected legal challenges from the pharmaceutical industry or whether the Biden administration will come in to accept, amend or try to return them in full.
“Drug companies don’t like me too much. But we had to do it, “said President Donald Trump, announcing the new policy in the White House. “I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep it, “he added, noting pressure from pharmaceutical company lobbyists.
The two finalized rules, long in the making, would:
– require drug manufacturers, for branded pharmaceuticals, to provide discounts to Medicare registered traders who now go to insurers and intermediaries called pharmacy benefit managers. Insurers who provide Medicare Part D compensation say it would increase premiums. Congress’s non-partisan budget service estimates it will increase taxpayers’ spending by $ 177 billion over 10 years. The Trump administration disputes this and says its rule could potentially lead to 30% savings for patients. It will enter into force on 1 January 2022.
The industry is considering “all options to stop this reckless attack on companies working around the clock to defeat COVID-19,” a statement from Pharmaceutical Research and American Manufacturers said.
Trump walked into an office, accusing pharmaceutical companies of “getting away with murder,” and complained that other countries whose governments set drug prices were taking advantage of Americans.
As a candidate in 2016, Trump advocated for Medicare to negotiate prices. As president, he rejected the idea, which most Republicans opposed. Instead, Trump began pursuing change through regulations.
He also backed a bipartisan Senate bill that would limit what Medicare recipients with high bills pay for drugs while limiting price increases. Ambitious in scope, Legislative Meaning Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Did not receive a full vote in the Senate.
Health and Humanitarian Services Secretary Alex Hazard, a former CEO of the pharmaceutical company, said the rules would “disrupt this pattern where patients suffer, where prices rise every year” while corporate insiders get rich.
Referring to the prospect of legal battles, Hazard said, “We believe that both regulations are extremely strong and any industry that challenges them is at odds with American patients and President Trump’s commitment to cut costs that are not available. “.
An international pricing rule would cover many anti-cancer drugs and other drugs delivered by infusion or injection into a doctor’s office.
This will apply to the 50 medicines that represent the highest cost of Medicare outpatient care. Ironically, the legal power for Trump’s actions comes from the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health care reform that he is still trying to repeal.
The rule also changes the way hospitals and doctors are paid to administer drugs in an attempt to try to remove incentives to use more expensive drugs.
Relying on international prices to cut spending in the United States is an approach favored by Democrats, including President-elect Joe Biden. But Democrats would go much further, allowing Medicare to use lower prices from abroad to extract industry discounts for all expensive drugs, not just those used in clinical settings.
Built into a bill passed by speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in California, this strategy would achieve much greater savings by allowing Medicare to pay for new benefits such as vision and toothpaste. This will also allow private insurance plans for workers and their families to receive lower Medicare prices.
Trump has taken other steps to reduce the cost of prescription drugs by paving the way for legal imports of drugs from abroad. Also, Medicare drug plans, which limit the cost of insulin to $ 35 per month, are available during open enrollment, which is currently underway.
Under Trump, branded drug prices continued to rise, but at a slower pace. The Food and Drug Administration has given priority to approving generic drugs that cost less.