Andrew Harnik / AP
President Trump signed an executive order on Sunday saying he lowers prescription drug prices “putting America first,” but experts say the move is unlikely to have an immediate impact.
The move comes nearly two months after the president signed a different executive order of the exact same name, but held him back to see if he could negotiate a better deal with drug companies. “If these talks are successful, we may not need to implement the Fourth Executive Order, which is a very difficult order for them,” Trump said at the time.
The new executive order repeals the original and expands drugs covered by Trump’s proposed “most favored nations” pricing scheme to include both Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D. The idea is that Medicare would refuse to pay more for drugs compared to the lower prices paid by other developed nations.
“It is unacceptable for Americans to pay more for the exact same drugs, often produced in the exact same places,” states the executive order.
The new order, like the previous one, signed on July 24 but not released, sparked swift condemnation from the pharmaceutical industry. Trump enjoys dismissing during campaign speeches, saying that if drug companies criticize him, he must do something right.
“The goal of any reform must be to reduce costs for patients, ensure patient access to drugs, address misaligned incentives in the pharmaceutical supply chain, and protect the critical work being done to end COVID-19,” Stephen Ubl, the president and CEO of the pharmaceutical industry lobbying group PhRMA, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, instead of pursuing these reforms, the White House has doubled down on a reckless attack on the same companies that work around the clock to beat COVID-19.”
UBL went on to describe the order as “an irresponsible and impractical policy that will give foreign governments a voice over how America provides access to care and care for the elderly and people struggling with devastating diseases.”
The ordinance asks the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “immediately take appropriate steps to implement its regulatory plan to test a payment model” by implementing the “most favored nations” policy. Translated: As with most enforcement actions, this only begins what will be a lengthy bureaucratic process that may or may not lead to the promised policy.
HHS spokespersons did not immediately respond to questions sent by email about how soon this could take effect and how a payment model actually occurs.
“The president may be frustrated that he has not reached an agreement with the drug manufacturers as his announced action is only a demonstration and it is very difficult to see how it could impact in the near future,” Ian Spatz told a health policy consultant. former executive of a pharmaceutical company.
For a president who boasts of his business skills, the month and a half since he first signed a drug price order is running out without a deal.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the president gave “drug companies a month to present a counter-proposal” but “the negotiations have not produced an acceptable alternative, so the president is moving forward.” It is unclear how serious or serious those negotiations were because neither side released much information about the talks.
One thing is certain, Trump will reclaim this order in the wake of the campaign, just like the last one did. Elders are a key part of the coalition that brought Trump into office in 2016, but polls indicate he doesn’t do as well with them this time around.