Politics, Pricing

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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