Signed new executive order to lower drug prices: Donald Trump

On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order aimed at lowering drug prices in the United States by linking them to those of other nations.

“Just signed a new Executive Order to LOWER DRUG PRICES! My Most Favored Nation order will ensure that our Country gets the same low price Big Pharma gives to other countries. The days of global free riding at America’s expense are over,” Trump tweeted.

“…and prices are coming down FAST! Also just ended all rebates to middlemen, further reducing prices,” he added.

In July, the Republican President signed an executive order that, among other things, would require Medicare to tie the prices it pays for drugs to those paid by other countries. The previous four executive orders had been designed to reduce drug costs for consumers, in a bid to highlight his commitment to cutting prescription prices before the November 3 presidential election.

After signing the executive order in July, Trump had said in a statement, “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1: Purpose. Americans pay more per capita for prescription drugs than residents of any other developed country in the world. It is unacceptable that Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places. Other countries’ governments regulate drug prices by negotiating with drug manufacturers to secure bargain prices, leaving Americans to make up the difference — effectively subsidising innovation and lower-cost drugs for the rest of the world.”

“The Council of Economic Advisers has found that Americans finance much of the biopharmaceutical innovation that the world depends on, allowing foreign governments, many of which are the sole healthcare payers in their respective countries, to enjoy bargain prices for such innovations. Americans should not bear extra burdens to compensate for the shortfalls that result from the nationalized public healthcare systems of wealthy countries abroad,” it added.

‘Serious economic, health consequences in midst of Covid-19 pandemic’

The President had said that the high drug prices in the US also have serious economic and health consequences for patients in need of treatment. “High prices are also a reason many patients skip doses of their medications, take less than the recommended doses, or abandon treatment altogether. The consequences of these behaviours can be severe.”

He had also said that the need for affordable Medicare Part B drugs is “particularly acute now”, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have only increased the burdens placed on America’s seniors and other Medicare Part B beneficiaries,” the President said in the statement.

The various sections of the July order ranged from relaxing drug importation rules to cutting Medicare payments to drugmakers, but experts claimed they were “unlikely to take effect in the near term”. Similar proposals by the Trump administration had stalled amid industry pushback.

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