Sadly, skepticism about the true impact of Trump’s populist posturing on drug pricing has proven to be well justified. As a worried nation focuses on the looming danger of the Senate vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the pharmaceutical industry has joined hands with the president who once said its corporate members are “getting away with murder.”
This week, the New York Times obtained a draft of a planned President Trump executive order on drug pricing. As Patients for Affordable Drugs founder and cancer patient David Mitchell told the Times, the text indicates that “Pharma has captured the process.”
The order, which appears likely to be rolled out after the dust settles on the Affordable Care Act repeal effort, was reportedly written largely by Trump budget staffer Joe Grogan, who was hired by the administration fresh from his role as a drug industry lobbyist. But Grogan is certainly not the only one carrying Big Pharma’s interests into the Trump administration. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price has been a heavy investor in the pharma industry, and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb spent years collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from pharma companies. Predictably, Trump’s team has written an executive order that reads like a Big Pharma wish list of eased regulation and extended monopolies.
Conspicuously absent from the proposed Trump order are the most logical and popular reform proposals, including allowing the Medicare program to use its massive purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices. Trump has explicitly endorsed Medicare negotiation in the recent past, and the shackles on Medicare are a key contributor to patients in the US paying the highest medicines prices in the world. But…