Trump Promises "Major" News on Drug Pricing "In About a Month"

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump made a speech in New Hampshire to discuss the administration’s efforts in combatting both the opioid crisis and high drug prices. In the speech, Trump alluded to a possible press conference in the near future that would discuss potential proposals in reducing prescription drug prices.
Samantha DiGrande
March 24, 2018
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump made a speech in New Hampshire to discuss the administration’s efforts in combatting both the opioid crisis and high drug prices. In the speech, Trump alluded to a possible press conference in the near future that would discuss potential proposals in reducing prescription drug prices.

“We’re making medically assisted treatment more available and affordable, and we continue to increase competition and drive down drug prices…We’re going to have a major news conference, probably at the White House, in about a month, because all of you people – and I’m talking about prescription drugs, not necessarily the drugs that we’re talking about here. But we pay, as a country, so much for drugs because of the drug lobbies and other reasons, and the complexity of distribution, which is basically another term for saying, ‘How do we get more money?’” said Trump.

Drug pricing has gotten a lot of attention as of late, most recently with 9 physician groups voicing their opposition to Medicare drug pricing proposals in a joint letter sent to HHS.

Joining Trump in the conference was HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who spoke specifically about his department's efforts to bring drug prices down.

“Last year, the FDA approved more generic drugs than it ever has in its history,” said Azar. “And that brings prices down for patients, for the system, for everybody.”

However, some lawmakers have questioned Azar’s commitment to reducing drug prices. During Azar’s confirmation hearing, Kaiser Health News reported that Democrats, including Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, pointed out that under Azar’s leadership, his previous company, drug maker Eli Lilly, had never authorized a decrease in a drug’s price during his tenure.

Azar also spoke to the same potential press conference that Trump had mentioned, stating that in about a month HHS will be “rolling out a whole slate of other proposals” around how drug prices are reduced and “how we bring discounts that the middlemen right now are getting; how those will go to our patients, to individuals,” said Azar.

The United States’ drug prices are among the highest in the world. “In some cases, it’s many times higher for the exact same pill…in the exact same package, made in the exact same plant. And we’re going to change that,” said Trump.  

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