Did Pres­i­dent Trump just jump the shark on drug prices?

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has vowed re­peat­ed­ly to slash drug prices, fre­quent­ly trash­ing greedy phar­ma com­pa­nies and their pric­ing poli­cies. And in re­marks he made be­fore meet­ing with the Con­gres­sion­al Black Con­gress Wednes­day, Trump has now gone even fur­ther, promis­ing to try and make drugs sold in the US — cur­rent­ly the high­est priced in the world — in­to the world’s cheap­est.

His com­ment:

But we’re go­ing to bid on drug prices, and we’re go­ing to try and have the low­est prices any­where in the world, from re­al­ly the high­est.  And that’s not on­ly the drugs, it’s pre­scrip­tion drugs.  But you go out to stores and you go even — in any com­mu­ni­ty, rich or poor com­mu­ni­ty, and you look at the kind of drug prices that we’re pay­ing and it’s re­al­ly un­fair what’s hap­pened in our coun­try.

So we’re go­ing to be in­sti­tut­ing a very, very strong bid­ding process. We’ll prob­a­bly need some leg­is­la­tion, but we’re go­ing to do it re­gard­less. We have to do it.  And we’re go­ing to get drug prices way down, way down.  Some peo­ple think it’s as im­por­tant as the health­care mea­sure, be­cause peo­ple are be­ing ripped off when they need their — they need drugs, they need pre­scrip­tion drugs.  And we’re go­ing to take care of that sit­u­a­tion.

Any pol­i­cy ap­proach­ing this ex­treme would dri­ve a knife through the heart of the in­dus­try. And few law­mak­ers on ei­ther side of the aisle have voiced an opin­ion even re­mote­ly sim­i­lar.

Glob­al phar­ma com­pa­nies have rou­tine­ly of­fered deep, deep dis­counts to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Gilead went that route with hep C when they were pric­ing So­val­di at $1,000 a pill in the US. And it’s al­most ab­surd to think that the in­dus­try could sus­tain a sys­tem where re­im­burse­ments fell be­low US rates, or Eu­ro­pean prices for that mat­ter.

Most are like­ly to write off Trump’s lat­est re­marks as an ex­am­ple of his trade­mark habit of mak­ing wild­ly overblown com­ments. It does, how­ev­er, un­der­score the widen­ing gulf that sep­a­rates the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion from bio­phar­ma on drug prices at a time he says he’s prep­ping pric­ing leg­is­la­tion.

Drug com­pa­nies like Eli Lil­ly, J&J, Al­ler­gan and oth­ers have rushed to try and demon­strate a com­mit­ment to rea­son­able an­nu­al price in­creas­es in an in­dus­try where each new prod­uct comes with a built-in ex­pi­ra­tion date on list prices. But the more they try, the fur­ther Trump pulls away.

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