Trump White House at work on executive order tackling drug prices: report

The White House is working on a drug pricing executive order, according to BioCentury.

If President Donald Trump can’t count on Congress to pass legislation targeting high drug prices, his administration may have to go it alone. The White House is working on an executive order on the issue, according to BioCentury, with eyes on value-based contracting for executive agencies.

The executive order would also seek trade policies that protect American drugmakers’ intellectual property rights abroad, according to BioCentury’s sources. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request to confirm the details.

Since winning the U.S. election, President Trump hasn’t been shy about criticizing pharma, saying back in January that the industry has been “getting away with murder” with high drug prices. At the time, he said the government would implement competitive “bidding” to save billions in costs—not a popular proposal in the drug industry.

RELATED: Trump to pharma: You're 'getting away with murder,' and I'm the one to stop it

Some of the president's other ideas are favored by pharma, however, including a potential tax repatriation holiday, a tax overhaul, fewer regulations and trade policies that defend U.S. pharma’s IP rights.

The BioCentury report comes a day after the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee convened a hearing to discuss drug pricing; two follow-up hearings are planned later this summer.

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced the SPIKE Act aimed at deterring the large drug price hikes that have made so many headlines over the last two years. Sen. Wyden’s bill would force drugmakers to justify price hikes above a certain threshold. It could require some companies to disclose R&D and marketing costs, another unpopular idea in biopharma.

RELATED: New FDA commissioner Gottlieb unveils price-fighting strategies

The bill targets not only sky-high price hikes like Turing Pharma’s notorious 5,000% increase on Daraprim but also smaller hikes on big-selling drugs that can hit Medicare and Medicaid budgets hard. It would allow drugmakers to roll back their price hikes if they don’t want to release information justifying the underlying costs.

And while the FDA can’t regulate drug prices, President Trump’s new agency chief recently unveiled some of his own tactics aimed at lowering costs.

RELATED: Pharma CEOs, eager for tax breaks and regulatory help, make nice with Trump

Last month, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency will publish and update a list of medications that are off patent and have no competition; work to improve generic review times; and seek to “curtail gaming” of regulations by the industry that allows companies to extend patent monopolies.

On the first strategy, Gottlieb said such a list could “entice competitors into the market” and ultimately lower costs.

A number of proposals, including Medicare price negotiations and drug importation, are pending in Congress, but none has been taken to a vote this session. Meanwhile, lawmakers in more than 30 states are trying to pass their own bills to rein in pharmaceutical costs.