WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- On Friday, President Donald Trump signed four executive orders that aimed to reduce the drug costs for Americans.
- The orders cover a vast range of price reduction ruling of drugs from Medicare up to the drug manufacturers.
- Experts said that the orders’ implementation in the soonest possible time would be far-fetched, especially those cases that were lacking in specifics.
On the quest to materialize his crusade of cutting drug prices for his reelection bid, President Donald Trump on Friday signed four executive orders that mandate to lessen medicine expenditures among American consumers.
The executive orders cover a comprehensive scope of reducing payments to Medicare up to drug makers.
Trump signed the first order that requires all pharmaceutical benefits managers (PBMs), who negotiate on behalf of the government, to turn the discounts they receive over to consumers. The government health plan for seniors (Medicare Part D) is also included. This new ruling breaks PBMs’ perpetual practice which passes a fraction of savings back to the health plan while bagging the remaining budget.
As much as $30 billion per year could be reduced from the drug costs of the elderly, the administration said. However, it would be hard to enforce the order considering its mandate to sustain the stable costs of Medicare premiums.
On the drug importation order (second), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is instructed to allow individuals to import cheaper drugs from overseas. It also instructs the HHS to finalize the efforts of importing Canada medicine to the states and permits insulin drug reimportation.
According to industry analysts, the importation would not have much impact on the drugs’ prices partly since the supply of drugs in markets abroad that can be sold in the US are limited.
For the insulin discount, the third order, the president mandates healthcare providers to sell the insulin and the epinephrine drug at a much lower price to patients who have insufficient coverage and no health insurance.
There was a triple increase in the average cost of insulin in the US from 2002 up to 2013, the American diabetes association stated. According to Reuter’s previous report, the cost of insulin in the US was $320 per vial compared to Canada which was at $30.
The final order instructs Medicare to match the price points of drugs sold from markets abroad. It mandates to pay for the price that is equivalent to the lowest price paid by foreign governments. The current practice is that Medicare is banned from negotiating with drug manufacturers regarding the prices of medicine.
The long-planned order can cut down Medicare payments by billions of dollars. To allow the drugmakers in proposing another solution, Trump has frozen this ruling’s implementation until late August.
If this order would be implemented, it would likely face legal battles against drug manufacturers.
While the orders cover promising cost-cutting provisions, experts said that the implementation in the near term was unlikely, especially those cases that need particular provisions.