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Stephanie Pellitt

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Trump Announces Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices

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Last Friday, President Trump announced the Administration’s plan to lower drug prices in a speech entitled ‘American Patients First,’ which highlights steps the Administration has taken, outlines future actions, and requests public comment on “even bolder actions” to bring down drug prices. The wide-ranging proposals include reforms to Medicare Part D and Part B, Medicaid, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the 340B Drug Discount program, and more.

The plan — which largely builds upon the initiatives presented in the White House’s 2019 fiscal year budget proposal and previously outlined in a white paper from the Council of Economic Advisors — aims to address four key problems:

  1. High list prices (the price a drug manufacturer initially sets);
  2. Rising out-of-pocket costs for patients;
  3. Foreign governments “freeloading” on American innovation; and
  4. Obstacles to negotiation, particularly for high-cost medications.

The plan offers a slate of proposals designed to curb consumers’ out-of-pocket costs, increase competition through increased price transparency and faster drug approvals and improved negotiating power for insurers. The plan does not include reforms such as government-negotiated drug prices, drug importation, and reference pricing — all of which have faced opposition from drug manufacturers.

The National Council has raised concern that some of the plan’s cost-cutting strategies could impact Medicare Part D and its six protected classes of drugs. The protected classes, which include drugs used for treatment of mental illness, ensure patients receive access to a full range of available medications. The National Council’s Chuck Ingoglia explains the significance of this maintaining this policy, “for patients with the most challenging diagnoses — like cancer, epilepsy, HIV, organ transplant or mental illness — medications are not always interchangeable. It’s important, therefore, to ensure that doctors have every option available when treating these patients.”