Trump targets Medicare drug prices with cost-cutting measures

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U.S. President Donald Trump will announce on Friday two rules created to lower drug prices, an administration official said on Thursday.

In July, Trump has signed four executive orders created to lower prescription drug prices through different methods, like allowing medications to be imported from other countries, as stated in earlier reports.

One of the rules implements what is known as a "most favored nation" approach that limits what Medicare pays for medications to the lowest price paid by other economically advanced countries.

Friday was the last day the administration could release a rule to be finalized in the 60 days before Inauguration Day on January 20. They also contend the rule will increase taxpayer costs-a rebuttal supported by a Congressional Budget Office review that found the policy would cost taxpayers $177 billion over a decade.

Medicare, which covers older Americans and those with disabilities, is now prohibited from negotiating the prices it pays to drugmakers. Trump has baselessly accused both Pfizer and the Food and Drug Administration of intentionally withholding the news until after the vote, even though Pfizer did not have access to the data until the Sunday after the election.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which represents biotech companies, said a Trump rule indexing USA prices to foreign drug prices was politically motivated because a coronavirus vaccine was not announced before the November 3 election as the president had promised it would be.

However, Pfizer denied the allegations of delaying the results of its COVID-19 vaccine for political purposes. "We are doing something that nobody thought anybody would do". Middlemen argue the rule will increase premiums.

"The Administration can not demonstrate that brand drug manufacturers will voluntarily lower their prices", the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents drug intermediaries, known as pharmacy benefit managers, said in a statement.

Before, Americans often paid more than twice as much for the exact same drug as other medically developed countries.

PhRMA, a trade group for pharmaceutical companies, called the rules "a reckless attack on the companies working around the clock to end this pandemic" and said it was looking at options to block them. As president, he dropped that idea, objected to by most Republicans. "The fact that they've chosen not to do so puts any gains in jeopardy ..."

If the two measures announced Friday survive legal challenges, they will radically transform the nation's drug price system. Instead, Trump began pursuing changes through regulations. The rule caused significant infighting past year with key White House staffers, who persuaded Trump in the summer of 2019 to withdraw the rule after government analyses showed it could raise premiums in Medicare. But administration officials maintain that both rules went through all the necessary steps. "Our action on rebates has the potential to be the most sweeping change to how Americans' drugs are priced at the pharmacy counter, ever".

The other rule would require drug makers to push rebates and discounts directly on to Medicare patients rather than to insurers and middlemen pharmacy benefit managers.

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