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Draft Trump Order Abandons Campaign Promises to Challenge Big Pharma and Make Medications Affordable

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: Today The New York Times published an analysis of a draft Trump executive order on prescription pricing and innovation. Public Citizen reviewed portions of the order text in cooperation with the Times.

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, would increase profits at the expense of patient safety while 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. Shamefully, the order even blames developing countries and outlines a plan to intensify the patent abuses that already cost lives 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 half measures in the draft order, the Trump administration should:

• End monopolies and allow competition. The government should authorize generic competition with unattainable patented drugs 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 Stop Price Gouging Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) 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.