President Donald Trump’s campaign promises already have convinced drug companies to lower prices and increase transparency.
In January, Trump put the pharmaceutical industry on notice that drug prices were too high. President Trump explained that drug companies were “getting away with murder.” Trump added, “PhRMA has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists, a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. We’re going to start bidding. We’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.”
Later that month, the president argued that the federal government could save $300 billion if it could negotiate drug prices.
President Trump explained in an interview with Time magazine, which named him “Person of the Year,” that he intended to lower drug prices. Trump said, “Well actually the drug companies haven’t done well. I saw the other day the drug companies have not gone up very much. Because I’m going to bring down drug prices. I don’t like what’s happened with drug prices.”
Trump lamented that the pharmaceutical lobby impeded the ability for the government to negotiate drug prices. “We don’t do it,” he said. “Why? Because of the drug companies.”
In the past, Congress has failed to enact sufficient reforms to lower drug prices. When Congress was drafting the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit, big pharma added a provision which banned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from negotiating with drug companies to set prices.
Last December, the Senate blocked a measure from Senator Bernie Sanders to amend the 21st Century Cures Act, allowing the importation of prescription drugs from other countries and for Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Sanders said on the Senate floor, “I am quite confident that all of my Republican colleagues will support an amendment in my hands that will do exactly what Trump said he would accomplish as president.”
Now, pharmaceuticals cost America over $350 billion a year, which is roughly two percent of gross domestic product. Ravo Mehrotra, of MTS Health Partners, estimated that the government could save $16 billion if the government negotiated drug prices.
In March, President Trump tweeted that he is working on a new system to bring down drug prices.
I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2017
Later that month, two of the biggest pharmaceutical firms announced that they will lower the cost of their pharmaceuticals.
Sanofi and Regneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said that its new treatment for atopic dermatitis, a painful skin condition, will cost $37,000. This is a substantial decrease from the $50,000 price tag for similar treatments.
Roche Holdings AG, lowered its price for a multiple sclerosis drug to $65,000, 25 percent cheaper compared to a 15 year-old competitor, Rebif.