Biden pushes for lower drug prices in executive order

The drug price provision is part of an expansive executive order aimed at promoting economic competition.

President Joe R. Biden is expected to sign an executive order aimed at lowering prescription drug prices along with many other provisions.

According to a fact sheet from the White House, the order will direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work with states and tribes to import prescription drugs from Canada, pushes Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs, and order HHS to release a comprehensive plan to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging.

The order will also encourage the Federal Trade Commission to ban so-called “pay for delay” agreements which see pharmaceutical manufacturers paying generic manufacturers to stay out of the market. The fact sheet says this has raised drug prices by $3.5 billion a year.

A separate provision of the executive order also announces a policy calling for antitrust agencies to focus enforcement on a number of industries including healthcare.

As previously reported, the order would also encourage the FTC to ban or limit the use of noncompete agreements in employment contracts. These agreements limit employees’ opportunities when they leave the company and can lead to costly lawsuits.

It is unclear what impact any limitations would have on physicians currently working under a noncompete agreement.

The order will also call on the FTC to ban unnecessary occupational licensing, which limits a person’s chance to find employment across state lines where licensure may be different. It also encourages the FTC and the Justice Department to limit employers’ ability to share information on worker pay amongst themselves, which may amount to collusion.

Biden is also calling for antitrust regulators to begin examining how the recent glut of mergers can contribute to monopsonies, which can lead to stagnant wages and benefits.