June 23, 2017
Draft Trump Executive Order Abandons Promises to Challenge Big Pharma and Make Medications Affordable
Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program
Note: Today, Politico published a draft executive order on prescription pricing and innovation that President Donald Trump is slated to issue soon. The New York Times published an analysis of the draft order on Tuesday but not the text of the order itself.
Big Pharma has captured the Trump administration. The Donald Trump who promised to make medications more affordable, ease Americans’ pain and take on the giant corporations is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the draft Trump executive order, formed in significant part by pharma lobbyist Joe Grogan, does little other than direct a series of reviews and analyses. The main aim of that exercise is to identify means to reduce safety standards and expand monopoly protections for the pharmaceutical corporations, failing to reduce costs – and even potentially raising them.
The Trump order shifts blame for pharma’s price gouging to federal programs, hospitals and Medicaid, among others – to anything except the pharma corporations themselves. Shamefully, the order even blames developing countries and outlines a plan to intensify the patent abuses that already cost lives and entrench unaffordability around the world.
The way to reduce medicine prices in the United States is to reduce them in the United States. Making medications more costly for the world’s poor won’t make them more affordable in the U.S. and won’t help Americans who are forced to choose between paying for their health care and paying the rent.
There is nothing complicated about reducing drug prices; it just requires the will to take on the pharma lobby. Instead of the non-measures in the draft order, the Trump administration should:
- End monopolies and allow competition. The government should authorize generic competition with monopolized patented medications as a means to reduce costs for public programs.
- Block backroom corporate deals that keep medications out of reach. Federal agencies should litigate aggressively to prevent, stop and recoup ill-gotten gains of pay-for-delay deals and prevent anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.
- Crack down on pharma fraud. Federal agencies must crack down on corporate crime, including routine pharma practices to overcharge the states, manipulate safety data and illegally market their products.
- Support meaningful legislative reform, including the Medicare negotiation powers Trump has promised, as well as the Stop Price Gouging Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), to stop manufacturers from dramatic increases for medications such as the EpiPen and opioid addiction treatments.
Read Public Citizen’s analysis of how pursuing new patent rules abroad will not lower prices in the United States and what the Trump administration should do instead.