Trump’s Plan To Lower Drug Costs Is A Good Start, But America Needs More

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Jake Grant Outreach Director, Coalition to Reduce Spending
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A recent poll found that a majority of Americans think passing legislation that lowers prescription drug pricing should be a top priority for President Trump and Congress.

Drug prices are a bigger concern for people than building a wall, addressing the opioid epidemic, or fixing infrastructure. It’s critical for politicians to keep their promises of fixing America’s broken pharmaceutical industry.

Fortunately, President Trump’s blueprint for lowering drug costs laid out last month promises concrete results for consumers and taxpayers across the nation.

Prescription drug expenditures make up nearly 20 percent of healthcare costs and are rising faster than any other healthcare cost. Four of the top 10 prescription drugs have more than doubled in price since 2011. President Trump recently addressed the issue, promising that coming reforms will cause “a major drop in the cost of prescription drugs” in the coming weeks.

The administration’s reforms are already underway. The White House recently signed the “Right To Try Act,” allowing terminally ill patients to try life-saving medications that have only gone partially through the FDA’s time-consuming approval process.

They also approved over a thousand low-cost generics through the FDA, saving billions for taxpayers and consumers. It’s clear the administration wants to make meaningful fixes to the broken healthcare system.

But the administration must be steadfast in laying the blame for skyrocketing drug prices where it belongs: on pharmaceutical companies. Big Pharma is willing to spend billions on lobbying politicians and the media to make it seem like they are not to blame.

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are often vilified for raising prices when, in fact, studies have found that there is no correlation between the rise in prices that drug manufacturers set and the rebates that they arrange with PBMs. Pharmaceutical companies do a classic bait-and-switch when the blame should be primarily on them.

The administration has placed a lot of focus on drug price negotiations with Medicare Part D and prohibiting “gag rules” contracts that prevent pharmacists from notifying patients when they could pay less out-of-pocket by opting not to use their insurance. The president’s blueprint also calls for requiring Part D members to be given an annual statement itemizing payments, out-of-pocket spending, and drug price changes.

These policy provisions would lead to more transparency within an industry that continues to see a rise in costs.

But there’s more that can be done. Increasing transparency and competition in the pharmaceutical industry would result in lower prices for hundreds of drugs in the marketplace.

One such reform, the CREATES Act, has bipartisan cosponsors across both chambers and would allow even more generic drugs to come to market, saving money and lives. With over a quarter of all Senators on board, the legislation would allow generic manufacturers to sue drug companies who do not provide samples of their drugs. Though it is already illegal to refuse to provide samples, the FDA had no way of enforcing the law, meaning drug companies could simply monopolize by not allowing their competitors to come to market.

This would encourage competition in the marketplace and save billions of dollars. That is just one example of legislation that is scheduled to be marked-up soon and could help the administration achieve their goal of fixing prescription prices.

President Trump has done a great job of laying the blame for outrageously expensive drug prices on the pharmaceutical companies who are extorting Americans and taxpayers. Congress has a unique opportunity with help from the Trump administration to do something positive to deter enormous price hikes.

Every day, there are millions of Americans who are forced to buy expensive medications for themselves and their families. Many have very few options and simply must pay high prices or continue being sick. Americans deserve a break from our expensive, flawed healthcare system.

Jake Grant is the outreach director for the Coalition to Reduce Spending and a contributor for Young Voices. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer. Follow Jake on Twitter.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.