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Trump signs order to start a process to lower US drug prices

Published on 14/09/20 at 10:50am
Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America

President Trump has signed an executive order that could cut drug prices by tying them to similar prices in countries with socialised healthcare systems. 

The order instructs the US Department of Health and Human Services to begin the rule-making process to start a payment model for some medicines, but overall the order has remained vague. It is simply designed to test the impact of such a change, meaning that cuts to drug prices won’t come into effect for at least months to come. 

Trump tweeted: “Just signed a new Executive Order to LOWER DRUG PRICES! My Most Favored Nation order will ensure that our Country gets the same low-price Big Pharma gives to other countries. The days of global freeriding at America’s expense are over, and prices are coming down FAST! Also, just ended all rebates to middlemen, further reducing prices.”

Trump also told a rally for his re-election campaign in Nevada that: “The cost of prescription drugs will be dropping like a rock very soon. The drug companies don’t like me too much.”

There have been prominent critics on both sides of the political aisle. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, said the order took no real action to lower drug prices. However, Republicans and pharmaceutical lobbyists feel the move goes too far. Michelle McMurry-Heath, the CEO of Biotechnology Innovation Organization, said: “It is simply dumbfounding that the Trump administration would move forward with its threat to import foreign price controls and the inevitable delays to innovation that will follow,” adding that it would “use every tool available, including legal action if necessary, to fight this risky foreign price control scheme.” 

The US Chamber of Commerce, which has been a big backer of the Republican party, said that the policy was “flawed” and “dangerous” and it will challenge it.. 

The Trump administration has constantly criticised the high price of prescription drugs, and Trump himself has signed multiple executive orders to cut these prices. However, executive orders do not have any automatic legal force and can be challenged in court, so, despite token efforts, not much has changed since the President’s inauguration in January 2017. 

Conor Kavanagh

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