OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Trump Issues New Prescription Drug Rules

President Donald Trump handed another victory to the citizens of the United States and he did it before former Vice President Joe Biden could do anything about it.

The president, on Friday, issued regulations that could lower prescription drug prices, though if he does not win his election challenges and Biden becomes president it is unknown if the rules will stand, which will put Biden on the hot seat of having to decide, The Associated Press reported.

“The drug companies don’t like me too much. But we had to do it,” the president said at a White House press briefing.

“I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep it,” in an apparent reference to an incoming Biden administration.

The regulations are also expected to face legal challenges from the drug companies.

The two finalized rules, long in the making, would:

— Tie what Medicare pays for medications administered in a doctor’s office to the lowest price paid among a group of other economically advanced countries. That’s called the “most favored nations” approach. It is adamantly opposed by critics aligned with the pharmaceutical industry who liken it to socialism. The administration estimates it could save $28 billion over seven years for Medicare recipients through lower copays. It would take effect Jan. 1.

— Require drugmakers, for brand-name pharmacy medications, to give Medicare enrollees rebates that now go to insurers and middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers. Insurers that deliver Medicare’s “Part D” prescription benefit say that would raise premiums. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it would increase taxpayer costs by $177 billion over 10 years. The Trump administration disputes that and says its rule could potentially result in 30% savings for patients. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Drug companies said that President Trump’s rules would give the government an unfair advantage in deciding the prices for drugs and they said they would challenge it.

“The administration is willing to upend the entire system with a reckless attack on the companies working around the clock to end this pandemic,” the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said. It also said that it is “considering all options to stop this unlawful onslaught on medical progress and maintain our fight against COVID-19.”

The United States Chamber of Commerce, in August, said that using the “most favored nation” rule would be dangerous.

“The Chamber has long said that importing foreign price controls is dangerous policy and the wrong way to try to reduce drug costs,” Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. “The campaign launched this week by the U.S. Chamber highlights the Administration’s innovation-killing new proposal which would hinder research and development for life-saving treatments and cures, at a time when we need U.S. innovators to keep their focus on defeating COVID-19. The White House needs to drop the Most Favored Nation pricing proposal now.”

There is truth to that. Limiting what drug companies can make could limit innovation. But President Trump is correct is saying that they funds for that should not all come from United States citizens.

It is ridiculous that our citizens foot the bill and watch as prescription drugs are far less expensive in other nations.