The Trump Administration on Friday announced four executive orders intended to lower drug prices for Americans, including measures like facilitating importation of drugs from foreign countries.
Joined at a news conference by federal health administrators and Florida leaders such as Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, and Florida House Speaker José Oliva, the president accused previous administrations of doing “nothing” to stop rising drug prices.
“Under the last administration alone, drug prices rose a staggering 55 percent,” President Trump said. “Thanks to my administration’s aggressive actions since taking office, we have successfully lowered drug prices for the first time in 51 years. But this reduction is still not close to what I want, what I expect. And I’m looking for help for our great seniors especially, in particular.”
According to the president, the four orders signed will “completely restructure the prescription drug market, in terms of pricing and everything else, to make these medications affordable and accessible for all Americans.”
The first order aims to deliver rebates from drug companies directly to patients for both insulin and Epipens to keep providers from hiking prices on low-income patients while pocketing the discounts themselves.
Said the president: “These providers should not be receiving discounts for themselves while charging their poorest patients massive, full prices. Under this order, the price of insulin for affected patients will come down to just pennies a day — pennies a day from numbers that you weren’t even able to think about. It’s a massive cost savings.”
The second order would make it legal for wholesalers and pharmacies to import drugs from Canada and other countries, where identical drugs have prices as much as 90 percent lower than their U.S. equivalents. This has often led to a phenomenon of Americans traveling abroad with the sole purpose of buying medication.
President Trump called the difference in cost “a difference like you wouldn’t believe.”
“We pay for all of the research and all of the development, and foreign countries pay absolutely nothing, and our consumer gets charged. This has been going on for decades…. But under my administration, we’re standing up to the lobbyists and special interests and fighting back against a rigged system.”
The third order would bypass “middlemen” like pharmacy benefit managers in order to directly give patients discounts—discounts the president said patients often never see from manufacturers.
He said of the “middlemen’s” influence on drug prices.
But I think the middlemen make more money than they do, and they don’t do much. Maybe they don’t do anything. Some people say they don’t do anything. Nobody even knows who they are….
Frequently, drug companies give these middlemen discounts of up to 50 percent of the price of prescription drugs. But too often, those discounts are not passed on to the pharmacy counter — meaning the people. This rule will pass those billions and billions of dollars a year.
The last order, which President Trump called “the granddaddy of them all,” would require that Medicare purchase drugs at the same prices foreign countries pay, a move intended to prevent the United States from subsidizing the research and development for all other countries.
Under this policy, Medicare will leverage its purchasing power to negotiate prices with the aim of finding a middle ground with other countries that are currently paying less for the same prescription drugs.
The president explained:
“Medicare is the largest purchaser of drugs anywhere in the world by far. Medicare — largest purchaser of drugs in the world. And we’re finally going to use that incredible power to achieve a fairer and lower price for everyone.”
The fourth order will not be signed until the end of August, giving the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies time to make a deal with him before the president carries it out.
“We may not need to implement the fourth executive order, which is a very tough order,” he said.
In a statement, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association said the policies would “drastically increase Medicare premiums for America’s seniors and most vulnerable.”
But President Trump later went on Twitter to tout the handful of orders.
“Nothing like this has ever [sic] for our citizens, especially our Seniors. REMEMBER YOUR FAVORITE PRESIDENT!” he said.