Trump signs executive order seeking to lower drug costs

September 14, 2020
Keith A. Reynolds
Keith A. Reynolds

The order aims to lower drug prices by “putting America first.”

President Donald J. Trump has signed another executive order aimed at lowering prescription drug prices by “putting America first.”

The order calls on the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement a payment model in which the administration would not pay more than the most-favored-nation price for “certain high-cost” prescription drugs and biologic products covered by Medicare Part B and Part D.

Trump claims in the order that it is unacceptable that U.S. residents often pay more for some drugs than patients in other countries and places the blame on other countries’ practice of regulating drug prices by negotiating with drug manufacturers. The order claims this leaves Americans subsidizing innovation and bargain prices for other countries.

This order revokes and expands upon another order, with the exact same title, which was signed in July but was unreleased as the White House attempted to use it as leverage in an unsuccessful deal with drug manufacturers, National Public Radio reports.

The New York Times reports that it is unclear if the White House has the authority to enact the order and its call for the HHS secretary to set up the model is based on authority vested in the president through the Affordable Care Act, which Trump is still attempting to have nullified in court.

Drug manufacturers have already voiced their opposition to the order.

“The administration has chosen to pursue the most favored nation policy — an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will give foreign governments a say in how America provides access to treatments and cures for seniors and people struggling with devastating diseases,” Stephen J. Ubl, the chief executive of the largest trade group PhRMA, says in the Times story.

The move is likely to be challenged in court.