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Get Critical Perspective on Trump Executive Order on Medications

Oct. 18, 2017


Get Critical Perspective on Trump Executive Order on Medications

Note: Reports suggest that President Donald Trump soon may issue an executive order on prescription medication prices. Public Citizen experts are available to comment on the likely content of the executive order and to analyze it once issued.

A draft of the Trump administration’s order leaked in June, followed by leaks of several discussion documents from the Trump administration’s working group on medication pricing. Public Citizen has analyzed each document and made them available here.

The draft order generated controversy for its failure to include serious reforms that would hold pharmaceutical manufacturers accountable or make medicines more affordable.

Trump’s public comments this week suggest that any pending executive order likely would include some of the most alarming elements of the leaked draft. While Trump said on the campaign trail that pharmaceutical executives were “getting away with murder,” the draft order and discussion documents instead fault regulation, Medicaid, hospitals and foreign countries, and could restrict, rather than expand, access to affordable medications.

Meanwhile, Trump appears set to nominate former Eli Lilly executive Alex Azar as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, literally empowering a Big Pharma sales and marketing executive to run the federal department that is charged with protecting the health of all Americans.

There is nothing complicated about reducing prescription prices. It just requires the will to take on the pharma lobby, of which Eli Lilly is a prominent member. 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 patented medications to reduce costs for public programs;
• Block backroom corporate deals that make medications unaffordable. 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; and
• Support meaningful legislative reforms, including the “Stop Price Gouging Act,” introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). Trump also should support the Improving Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), which proposes a wide range of reforms, and support the CREATES Act, which would crack down on anti-competitive practices of pharmaceutical corporations.