Trump Issues Expansive Order Aimed at Lowering Drug Prices

“Just signed a new Executive Order to LOWER DRUG PRICES!” the president wrote on Twitter. “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…”

Pharmaceutical manufacturers staunchly oppose the executive order.

“The administration has chosen to pursue the most favored nation policy — an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will give foreign governments a say in how America provides access to treatments and cures for seniors and people struggling with devastating diseases,” said Stephen J. Ubl, the chief executive of PhRMA, the industry’s largest trade group.

“What’s worse,” he added, “is that they are now expanding the policy to include medicines in both Medicare Part B and Part D, an overreach that further threatens America’s innovation leadership and puts access to medicines for tens of millions of seniors at risk.”

BIO, the biotech industry trade group, was equally outraged.

“With scientists and researchers at America’s biopharmaceutical companies working around the clock to fight a deadly pandemic, 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,” Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, the group’s chief executive, said in a statement.

The industry’s opposition to international index pricing is shared by many Republicans in Congress, who say they think adopting drug prices from countries where prices are set by the government is effectively importing socialism.

In an interview last month, Joel White, a Republican strategist, called it “really bad policy” because it amounted to “importing other countries’ price controls,” and “misguided” because it was targeted at medicines given in doctors’ offices or hospitals.

Sunday’s directive emerged from Mr. Trump’s announcement of four executive orders, all aimed at lowering drug prices in various ways, at the July signing ceremony. The first three were made public right away but require the Department of Health and Human Services to undertake a lengthy rule-making process before they will have any effect on drug prices.

At the time, Mr. Trump described the fourth order, the one he finally released, then revoked and supplanted with the expanded order on Sunday, as “the granddaddy of them all.”

Katie Thomas contributed reporting.

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