Trump clocks in drug prices – DER SPIEGEL


US President Donald Trump launched four edicts on Friday that are expected to lead to lower prescription drug prices in the United States. The move came after Trump was heavily criticized for his policy in the corona crisis.
Trump had promised most of these measures in the past, but never took them up in concrete terms. The fact that they are now being implemented is therefore seen in the US in response to poor polls and the beginning of the election campaign.

What is regulated in the decrees:

  • In the future, prescription drugs may also be imported from countries where they are cheaper than in the United States – for example, from Canada.

  • If pharmaceutical companies give discounts on the sale of their products, middlemen should in future be obliged to pass these discounts on to patients. Such discounts on list prices have so far often been granted in exchange for preferential treatment by insurers. For this reason, insurers and the patients under contract with them rarely pay the full list price of a medication.

  • Insulin is also expected to become cheaper in the United States.

  • Medicare, a state health insurance company, is set to buy medicines in the United States at the price that other countries will pay for the same medication.

The last measure will initially not come into force, Trump announced. Negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies were planned beforehand. They asked for a meeting to discuss possible price cuts. The first meeting is scheduled for next week, but negotiations should be completed by August, the president said.

“A distraction that diminishes our skills”

Trump’s push has met with little favor in the pharmaceutical industry. The decrees are merely “a distraction that diminishes our ability to respond to the current pandemic – and to those we may face in the future,” said the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America umbrella organization.

In any case, many observers doubt that the President’s plans will actually be implemented. “We believe that they are more likely to target discussion points for his election campaign than real, tangible effects,” said RBC Capital Markets stock exchange and medical analyst Brian Abrahams.

An assessment shared by Ameet Sarpatwari from Harvard Medical School. The decrees are obviously a sign of despair that “the president will perish in the polls and must show that he is doing something,” Sarpatwari told the public radio network NPR. Implementing the orders is likely to take many months, if at all.
NPR journalists also pointed out that Trump had announced the new regulations, but had only partially published their concrete content. It is unclear whether the president actually signed the decrees – or whether it was ultimately just a show announcement.
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