WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump vowed on Friday to “bring soaring drug prices back down to earth” by promoting competition among pharmaceutical companies, and he suggested the government could require drugmakers to disclose prices in their ubiquitous television advertising.
He would instead give private entities more tools to negotiate better deals on behalf of consumers, insurers and employers.
Trump said that a “tangled web of special interests” had conspired to keep drug prices high at the expense of consumers.
“Everyone involved in the broken system — the drugmakers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers and many others — contribute to the problem,” Trump said.
His proposals hardly put a scare into the system he criticized.
Ronny Gal, a securities analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said the president’s speech was “very, very positive to pharma,” and he added, “We have not seen anything about that speech which should concern investors” in the pharmaceutical industry.
Republicans in Congress welcomed the president’s attention to high drug prices and promised to review his proposals, which Trump said would “derail the gravy train for special interests.”
Democrats embraced the opportunity to push health care back to the center of the political debate.
“President Trump offered little more than window dressing to combat the rising cost of drugs,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “We Democrats have offered a better deal on prescription drugs through true transparency, Medicare Part D negotiation, and a cop on the beat to police and stop exorbitant price hikes.”
After supporting some of those same proposals on the campaign trail, Trump pivoted to a different approach. He said his administration would provide new powers for Medicare’s private prescription drug plans, known as Part D, to negotiate lower prices but he would not use the purchasing power of the federal government to conduct direct negotiations.
Mark Merritt, president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents drug benefit managers, said the real problem was the high prices set by drugmakers.
“Getting rid of rebates and other price concessions would leave patients and payers, including Medicaid and Medicare, at the mercy of drug manufacturers’ pricing strategies,” Merritt said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.