This past Friday, July 24th, President Trump signed multiple Executive Orders to lower medication prices for patients and, as he commented during the signing, to restructure the prescription drug market in terms of pricing. The three Orders, as well as a potential fourth:
- “Enable Americans without access to affordable insulin and injectable epinephrine through commercial insurance or Federal programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, to purchase these pharmaceuticals from an FQHC at a price that aligns with the cost at which the FQHC acquired the medication.”
- Allow for: importation of certain, safe prescription drugs from other countries; re-importation of insulin products; facilitate use of individual importation waivers at authorized pharmacies in the US.
- Pass along drug rebates to patients so they may save at the pharmacy counter.
- Reduces prescription drug costs for Americans to the “lowest price available in economically comparable countries for Medicare Part B drugs.”
The fourth Order was not signed and issued; full details are still unknown. As stated in the White House’s briefings statement: “Absent successful negotiations with drug company executives this Order will be implemented on August 24.” The heads of major drug companies requested a meeting with the President, which was scheduled for Tuesday, July 28th, as noted by Trump during his Executive Order signing. That meeting was reportedly canceled.
Shortly after these Orders were issued on July 24th, PhRMA CEO Stephen J. Ubl released a statement. “The research-based biopharmaceutical industry has been working around the clock to develop therapeutics and vaccines to treat and prevent COVID-19. The administration’s proposal today is a reckless distraction that impedes our ability to respond to the current pandemic – and those we could face in the future. It jeopardizes American leadership that rewards risk-taking and innovation and threatens the hope of patients who need better treatments and cures,” said Ubl as part of his response.
According to a New York Times report: “Wall Street analysts were skeptical that the orders would have much effect on drugmakers and said they could prove difficult to implement in practice. ‘We believe they are likely geared more towards deriving campaign talking points rather than producing tangible, material effects,’ Brian Abrahams, a biotech analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note.”