FiercePharmaPolitics—Trump says international pricing plan not 'satisfactory,' pushes for even lower costs

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump last week called for lower prices in the U.S. than a group of other countries. (C-Span)

Welcome to the FiercePharma political roundup, where each Monday we’ll highlight developments in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that could affect how drugmakers operate. 

The Trump administration previously proposed tying Medicare Part B drug prices to the average in a group of international countries, but the president last week went even more aggressive with the push. He now views the proposal as not “satisfactory,” Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said at an event, according to Modern Healthcare. The administration will now push for the U.S. to pay the lowest prices of the group of countries, the secretary said. 

In the Senate, Sens. John Cornyn and Richard Blumenthal sought to pass a bill that would target patent gaming that delays competition, but Sen. Chuck Schumer blocked the move, The Hill reports. Why? Sen. Schumer said a broader approach to drug pricing is needed and that Republicans continue to block such a strategy.

As debate continues over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan, Stat reported it’s small biotechs who would suffer most under the proposal—not the large drugmakers who have been vocal opponents. That’s because venture capital firms could stop funding early-stage work at the companies. That stoppage could threaten development on future treatments or cures.

Biogen received some drug pricing criticism from the National MS Society on its new offering Vumerity, which carries an $88,000-per-year list price, the lowest of any oral MS options. The society said the price “does not show the commitment to affordable access that we had hoped.”

In a move to provide insulin pricing relief, the World Health Organization last week said it would start certifying generic versions, The New York Times reports. The approvals would allow United Nations agencies and nonprofits such as Doctors Without Borders to purchase the copycats. 

As the Trump administration continues its effort to force drugmakers to include drug prices in TV ads, the industry again hit back. Merck, Eli Lilly, Amgen and the Association of National Advertisers said the proposal amounts to "agency overreach, plain and simple." Drug companies won an earlier round in the legal fight, but HHS appealed in August.