President Trump signed an executive order on Sunday saying it lowers the cost of prescription drugs “by putting America first,” but critics said the change would have a little immediate impact. The action comes just two months after another executive order of the same name was signed by the president but held it back to see whether he could make a better agreement with pharmaceutical companies. “If those talks are approved, we will not require to administer the fourth executive order, which is a very convoluted order for them,” Trump said at the time.
The new executive order repeals the original and expands all parts of Medicare B and D to include drugs covered by Trump’s contentious price plan for “most favoured countries.” The idea is that Medicare would refuse to pay more for drugs than the cheaper prices of other developing nations.
“It’s unjustified for Americans to pay more for the identical drugs, even distributed almost at the similar venues,” the executive order declares. The new order, like the earlier one signed on July 24 but not released, prompted instant criticism by the drug industry. Trump revels in the pushback during campaign speeches, saying he needs to do something right if drug companies threaten him.
“The focus of any changes must be on reducing healthcare costs, sheltering patient access to drugs, addressing deranged incentives in the pharmaceutical supply chain and maintaining the vital progress already done to fight COVID-19,” said Stephen Ubl, chairman and chief executive officer of the advocacy group Pharmaceutical Research and Producers of America Drug Industry. “Regrettably, in a strong attack on the same businesses working around the clock, the White House has doubled to smash COVID-19 instead of pushing any changes.”
Ubl described the order as “an incautious and absurd policy that will give foreign governments a say in how America bestows access to ministrations and treatments for seniors and people living with devitalizing diseases.” The order calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “take urgent steps to implement its payment model rulemaking plan.”
A Health and Human Services Department official said the agency “does not comment on the rulemaking process” when asked how easily this could come into effect and what it looks like to test a payment model in practice. “The president may be infuriated that he has not accomplished an agreement with drug manufacturers as his latest action is merely a display, and it is very difficult to envision how it will ever have any effect,” said Ian Spatz, a health policy analyst and former drug industry executive.
The month and a half after he first signed a drug pricing order end without a deal for a president who prides himself on his skills in deal-making. A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said the president gave “drug companies a month to come up with a counter-proposal,” but “talks didn’t yield a satisfactory solution, so the president is moving on.” It’s ambiguous how extensive or thorough those talks were because neither side disclosed any information about the negotiations.
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