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Trump’s Claim of Lower Drug Prices Is Misleading

Statements from Public Citizen Experts

Note: President Donald Trump is scheduled to make a major health policy speech in Florida this afternoon and sign an executive order titled “Protecting Medicare from Socialist Destruction.” A White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report released Wednesday criticized media coverage of prescription costs and used Consumer Price Index data to claim that prices are falling. While Trump touts concern about high medicine prices, his revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would lock in U.S. policies that keep U.S. drug prices high. The deal adds USMCA Chapter 20 terms that would block generic competition, locking in high prices here and exporting our bad policies to Canada and Mexico to raise prices there.

“Trump is moving the goal posts.

The White House has been unable to enact a single meaningful reform to bring down drug prices. That happens when you hire pharma execs to regulate pharma execs. Now the president is turning to the CEA to invent the drug pricing victory he did not achieve.

The report measures pricing trends by high-volume drugs dispensed at pharmacies rather than by the high-priced drugs that are causing rationing, bankruptcy and suffering. The White House put work into these alternative facts. Instead, it should work to line up Republican votes for the modest but meaningful legislation developed by U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Perhaps the president could remember a more ambitious promise he made and broke, and support legislation for direct government price negotiations with drugmakers. People are still waiting for that real relief.”

– Peter Maybarduk, director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

“If Trump cared about access to affordable drugs, he wouldn’t have let Big Pharma rig the revised NAFTA he signed last year. That pact would lock in high prices here and raise prices in Canada and Mexico.

Trump talking about importing cheaper drugs from Canada is incredibly cynical, given that his revised NAFTA would raise drug prices in Canada, a problem the latest Canadian health budget reflects.

Pharmaceutical firms are now funding a campaign to ram Trump’s USMCA through Congress because the deal would undermine changes Congress is trying to make to bring down U.S. drug prices.

Since the revised NAFTA was announced a year ago, congressional Democrats, unions and consumer groups have been united in demanding that the pharma giveaways be removed before any deal is sent to Congress.”

– Lori Wallach, director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch