Pixabay/geraltUS President Donald Trump introduced a plan called "American Patients First" that seeks to create incentive to lower list prices of prescription drugs through rebate-sharing changes and requiring drug-akers to show prices in TV ads. PBMs like Express Scripts and CVS Health, in turn, have lauded the new plan. Those steps include: requiring insurers to share rebates from drug companies with Medicare patients and changing the way Medicare pays for high-priced drugs administered at doctors' offices.
Senator Ron Wyden, also a Democrat, said the proposals "amount to asking drug companies nicely to lower their prices with zero accountability". "This is the possible restructuring of a major sector of the economy".
He brought his point to bear on the pharmacy-benefit managers and other market segments that negotiate pricing and discounts with drugmakers, as CNBC recapped his speech on Friday.
The president also blasted foreign governments, alleging they force drug companies to sell at low prices in their countries, driving up costs for American consumers. "It's going to be months for the kind of actions that we need to take, here".
Some of the administration's longer-term priorities include restricting use of rebates, creating incentives for drugmakers to lower list prices, and investigating tools to address foreign government practices that it said could be harming innovation and driving up US prices. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican and one of the supporters attending Mr. Trump's speech.
But This Might Be About Politics More Than Results: "The president's tough talk on drug prices will no doubt be popular with the public".
It was a compromise that had health care investors sighing in relief. "The proposal is vague on details and filled with more slogans than actual sound economic policies".
The pharmaceutical industry would also benefit from one part of the plan, which is meant to force other wealthy countries to pay more for drugs.
"America will not be cheated any longer, and especially will not be cheated by foreign countries", Trump said at the White House Rose Gardens on Saturday. Healthcare investors had braced for months for more direct attempts to regulate US prices that would cut into industry profits. "They won't be so rich anymore", he said. "Almost everything he said was supportive to our business model".
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Friday's speech embraced some ideas the powerful pharmaceutical lobby has been seeding and spreading.
It's time to re-examine the role of pharmacy benefit managers and understand how their financial arrangements work, said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
"Everyone involved in the broken system - the drugmakers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers and many others - contribute to the problem", Trump said, adding that even the government has been a part of the problem, referring to the way "previous leaders turned a blind eye" to rising costs.
A pharmaceutical trade group issued a statement saying the president's plan could limit patient access to medication and stifle innovation.
Some drug-industry critics, meanwhile, saw reasons to be optimistic that the proposals would help ease costs for patients.
But health policy specialists said that although there were some sensible ideas in the blueprint, it fell short of the promise.
Democrats criticized the plan as a win for drug companies, not consumers. But it does not include his campaign pledge to use the massive buying power of the government's Medicare program to directly negotiate lower prices for seniors.
The back-and-forth reflects a broader debate on health care, which polls suggest is a major voter concern heading into the midterm elections.