- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2020

President Trump said Tuesday he plans to meet with drug companies this week on ways to lower prices, still viewing his “favored nations” clause as a useful cudgel even though his previous deadline for action came and went.

Mr. Trump signed the favored-nations order, which would align U.S. prices for doctor-administered drugs under Medicare with what other nations pay, in late July.

He put the clause on ice until Aug. 24 — so Big Pharma had time to present a better offer — but the deadline passed without anyone seeing the text of the order, making it unclear what it would do or how long it would take to implement.

Even so, the president says drug companies are starting to sweat.

“The drug companies are having a real problem with that so they’re coming in to see me,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he departed for a trip to Wisconsin. “They’re coming, yeah, they’re coming. This week.”



The president made a similar claim when he signed the favored-nations order as part of a quartet of drug-pricing actions on July 24. But drug companies didn’t show up for a planned White House meeting, placing the effort in limbo.

Big Pharma lobbies have taken out TV ads against the plan, which is also upsetting conservative pressure groups like FreedomWorks.

They say it amounts to European-style price controls, though Mr. Trump says he just wants fair prices. Prices under Medicare Part B are essentially fixed, so the administration feels the U.S. is getting hosed compared to other nations.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a prominent lobbying group for the industry, opposes the order.

“The most favored nation executive order is an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will give foreign politicians a say in how America provides access to treatments and cures for seniors and people struggling with devastating diseases. We remain committed to working with all stakeholders to identify market-based, competitive solutions that lower costs for patients, ensure patients’ access to medicines and protect the critical work being done to end COVID-19,” PhRMA said in a recent statement.

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