Yet another broken promise from Trump, this time concerning drug prices. After meeting with Big Pharma yesterday, Trump announced that he would not pursue a plan to negotiate better prices with them, but instead would just give them some tax cuts and deregulate their products.
Suddenly it is less important to Republicans that drugs be regulated. How odd.
New drugs are generally covered by patent monopolies, so drug companies have a lot of pricing power; other companies can’t produce the same drug without paying royalties, so there’s little competition. But most countries use their nationalized health care systems to negotiate a good deal on drug prices. Manufacturing pills is cheap, so it’s usually still profitable for a company to sell medicine at a pretty steep discount.
The United States doesn’t have a nationalized health care system, but we do have Medicare for senior citizens, and since the USA is a very large country, that’s still a huge potential bulk purchaser. But a 2003 law written by congressional Republicans and signed by George W. Bush prohibits the federal government from using that negotiating power.
As recently as January 11, President-elect Trump was promising to revisit this policy.
“Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs,” he said at a press conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly.”
Apparently we still aren't going to bid properly. According to the pool reporter present at Trump's press conference following his meeting with PhRMA, he announced this:
I'll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.
So what I want, we have to get lower prices, we have to get even better innovation and I want you to move your companies back into the United States. And I want you to manufacture in the United States. We're going to be lowering taxes, we're going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary.
So, broken promise, then. Medicare recipients, take heed. Trump will not protect Medicare and he will not protect Social Security. He lied to you.
He lied to you.
He lied to you.
Do not forget that.