Sunday, May 13, 2018

Trump breaks promise on prescription meds - Big Pharma celebrates

You think all the money paid to Michael Cohen by AT&T and Novartis was wasted? Think again. Big Pharma’s investment bought themselves a president. But … Jeez … you’d think the price tag would be higher. On the other hand ….

The Washington Post asks Why would a Swiss health-care company pay Michael Cohen $1.2 million? They answer: Look at drug prices.

… the cold truth is that a million bucks is pocket lint compared with the sweetheart deal that companies such as Novartis have already engineered in the United States. A law prevents America’s largest health-insurance entity, Medicare, from negotiating lower prescription drug prices. That’s a big part of the reason drugs in the United States cost far more than the same compounds prescribed in other Western countries.

Drug pricing in the United States is badly broken. For example, a study published in the journal Neurology found that treatments for multiple sclerosis, a field in which Novartis is a major player, have skyrocketed despite increased competition, thanks to “a seemingly dysfunctional marketplace where expanded choice has led to higher, rather than lower, prices.”

On Friday, Trump unveiled his long-promised plan to tame prescription prices, and guess what? The ban on Medicare negotiation, which candidate Trump promised to end, remains intact. Evidently some of the industry’s lobbying dollars were spent more effectively than others.

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) weighs in: Trump abandons key campaign promise on prescription medications.

One of the few key areas on which Donald Trump broke with Republican Party orthodoxy was lowering prices on prescription drugs. In fact, as regular readers know, he complained bitterly shortly before taking office about the pharmaceutical industry’s powerful lobbyists, and said drug companies are “getting away with murder.”

The president has even accused the drug industry of corruption, arguing that pharmaceutical companies contribute “massive amounts of money” to politicians as part of a scheme to keep the cost of medicines higher.

He even had a bold idea: if elected, Trump told voters, he’d leverage Medicare’s buying power to lower the cost of prescription medication. Shortly after the Republican’s inauguration, the White House said the new president “absolutely” stood by that position.

And then, his posture changed, to the point that Trump put a pharmaceutical company executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services. And if that wasn’t enough to cement this president’s role as a key ally of drug makers, today did the trick.

President Donald Trump on Friday vowed to lower drug prices for American consumers, outlining a strategy that focuses on private-sector incentives but would not allow Medicare to use its leverage as the biggest player in the market to directly negotiate better bargains for its subscribers. […]

While Trump said his proposal would give Medicare “new tools to negotiate lower prices” — such as allowing Medicare to change its formularies or benefit designs to respond to spikes in generic-drug prices — senior administration officials acknowledged in a briefing prior to his remarks that there is no plan to allow the program to directly barter with drug companies.

Or put another way, just days after Trump boasted, “When I make promises, I keep them,” he audaciously broke one of his most populist promises.

A Washington Post analysis added today, “…Trump didn’t just propose the change on the campaign trail; he said those who opposed it were in the pockets of the drug companies — a criticism that could now just as aptly be applied to him.”

Drug companies – the ones the president accused of corruption and “getting away with murder” – saw their stock prices soar after Trump’s speech, reinforcing the impression that they, not consumers, are the key beneficiaries of the new White House plan.

The Wall Street Journal gets it. Trump’s Plan to Cut Drug Prices Leaves Industry Relieved. President criticizes pharmaceutical lobby ‘abuse’; strategy is a shift away from campaign pledge of more aggressive action. (The full article is behind a pay-wall.)

So does the Huffington Post. Trump’s Plan On Prescription Drug Prices Looks Nothing Like What He Promised. So much for an all-out assault on Big Pharma. Here is more from the Huff Post.

Candidate Donald Trump promised Americans a war on the pharmaceutical industry. President Donald Trump isn’t going to give them one.

On Friday afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services released a policy blueprint for helping Americans pay for prescription drugs that, with every passing year, get harder and harder to afford.

“Today, my administration is launching the most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people,” Trump said of the plan during a speech in the White House Rose Garden.

Whether and how much the approach will ultimately reduce drug prices is unclear, and will probably remain so for some time. But while some of the ideas Trump endorsed have bipartisan support and the potential to help people, few experts expect the administration’s plan to have the kind of dramatic impact Trump once promised.

The health care industry certainly doesn’t seem scared. Stocks climbed following the speech, while analysts dismissed it loudly, using phrases like “non-event” and “waste of time.”

The drug industry was high on the [Trump campaign] list of predators. He railed against them regularly, even after taking office, famously saying drugmakers were “getting away with murder” by charging such high prices for life-saving medications.

More controversially, Trump also endorsed an idea Democrats had long championed and Republicans had long opposed: having the federal government negotiate prices directly with drugmakers, just like the governments of other developed countries do. Name-brand drugs in those countries are far less expensive than they are in the U.S.

But Trump betrayed those who voted for him - at least those who depend on life-saving prescription drugs.

A year and a half into his presidency, and following some well-publicized meetings with precisely the sort of pharmaceutical industry leaders he once denounced, Trump has backed away from that rhetoric. He’s no longer calling to have the federal government negotiate with drugmakers over prices and, more generally, he no longer identifies the drug industry as the primary culprit behind high prices.

Wait for it …

Yup. It’s not Big Pharma - it’s big gummint.

… Trump has adopted a more nuanced and in many ways more traditionally Republican argument for why prescriptions are so expensive. This view, which the White House Council of Economic Advisers laid out in a February report, blames high prices more on the excesses of big government than on the excesses of Big Pharma.

At any rate:

What’s not on the table are any of the big, potentially game-changing ideas like having the government negotiate directly with drugmakers, or allowing imports of cheap drugs from other countries, or radically redesigning the patent system …

No comments:

Post a Comment