Multiple crises might be roiling the U.S. these days, but drug pricing is still on President Donald Trump's mind.
After a bipartisan drug pricing effort fell apart in Congress, Trump is getting ready to sign three executive orders on drug pricing, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told "Lou Dobbs Tonight" last week. Meadows didn't offer details, but he said the orders will "substantially make sure that the average American gets to pay less for their prescription drugs.”
Trump campaigned to shake up drug pricing before the 2016 election, and, after winning, he said drug companies were “getting away with murder”—and he'd make sure that stopped.
But enacting changes to the drug pricing system has proven tough for the Trump administration. In May 2018, officials rolled out a drug-pricing blueprint that aimed to boost competition and price negotiations, plus crack down on anticompetitive behavior in the industry. Officials have also sought to take on rebates and implement drug importation, but they scrapped the rebate proposal after a review from the Congressional Budget Office.
Another administration effort to force drug prices into TV ads faced legal pushback from the drug and advertising industries. Last month, several companies prevailed in their lawsuit against the measure.
Pharma companies still enjoy broad pricing freedoms in the U.S. despite those efforts, but the scrutiny itself has put a damper on price increases in recent years. Though pharma companies continue to hike prices, they're marking up stickers on fewer drugs and by lower margins.
Now, though, after Congress couldn’t come to an agreement on the issue, Trump is reportedly readying those executive orders.
Meadows’ comments come after a drug pricing effort by Sen. Charles Grassley lost steam. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, Grassley wrote that Democrats “have left the negotiating table" in pursuit of “political gain.” Republicans, meanwhile, are “sitting on their hands” and “throwing the taxpayers we claim to champion under the bus.”
Meanwhile, some pharma companies are moving forward with midyear price hikes even amid the pandemic. AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Sanofi were among companies that have raised dozens of prices by low single-digit percentages in July, according to GoodRx.