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My Quick and Dirty Take on Trump’s Drug Price Efforts

Photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov

I’m a Democrat and voting for Joe Biden. It’s good to be honest. Biden supporters may view my blog post more favorably, while Trump supporters might be more skeptical. I can live with that. You can all fact check me. But ask yourselves: “have my prescription drug costs gone down over the past four years”? If you want to respond in the comments, please do so politely. About 25% of Americans, many tens of millions of people, say they have a hard time affording their meds.  As I mention below, we should all get along on this issue. It’s not only critical that we end the madness of high drug prices in America, but let’s unify when we agree!! 

My quick and dirty position point here is that most of Trump’s efforts to lower drug prices have either failed and/or are simply political window dressing to help him get elected. Before my fellow Democrats turn up your noses, just know that Obama promised to take on Big Pharma, too, but he did not. For a positive spin, Trump’s bashing Big Pharma rhetoric may have future political reverberations on the Republican party in favor of real actions to lower drug prices.

Trump said before and after his inauguration that the drug companies were “getting away with murder” and that prices would come “way down”. Source: https://khn.org/morning-breakout/pharma-is-still-getting-away-with-murder-trump-says-hinting-at-intent-to-bring-down-costs/

I’m sorry, America: Drug prices remain exorbitantly high. They don’t have to be. So many issues divide our country. Not this one.  Republican and Democratic voters overwhelmingly agree that drug prices are too high, on legislative and policy reforms to fix the problem. Case in point: 80% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats believe that Medicare should be allowed to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices. On drug importation, 76% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats support it. [Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]. Where else is there such bipartisan unity these days? 

As founder of Prescription Justice, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, I’m trying to make lowering drug prices an advocacy efforts that really brings us all together. Please come check out what we’re doing! 

Look, Trump has claimed “Drug prices are coming down, first time in 51 years because of my administration.” There are tiny pebbles of  truth here. PolitiFact rates this claim Mostly False. It’s a good analysis. The gist is that threats by Trump may have slightly slowed increases among the big companies but nothing substantive was accomplished. 

Trump’s famous executive orders on drug prices of this past summer have not lowered drug prices but were the stuff of reality TV. He would argue to give him time but why did he wait until the last year of his administration, just as his campaign was kicking into 5th gear to take these actions? 

With one of his executive orders, Trump opened up the policy door to expand drug importation – but there’s vast leeway to shut that door quickly. I wrote about the executive order on Ask PharmacyChecker and specifically about what we could hope for if Biden wins to keep moving forward on importation. 

I strongly believe that a Biden administration would enact policies to lower drug prices in a manner equally satisfying to Republicans and Democrats. I realize that drug prices aren’t the only issue. But when the election is over, let’s come together and end the crisis of high drug prices in America.

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Non-Partisan Support of Prescription Drug Importation State Laws Deviate from the National Political Norm

Trump supports prescription drug importation, and he’s not alone. An article by Kaiser Health News reporter Phil Galewitz headlined Trump’s support for drug importation to fight high drug prices at the state level. His article delves into the history of earlier state importation attempts, which were personal drug importation not wholesale drug importation programs. But the coolest thing I took from it was that the three states that passed prescription drug importation laws have governors across the political spectrum. None are traditional right-wing Republicans or super left Democrats. What does that look like?

In Florida, you have Governor Ron DeSantis, fashioning himself in the mold of a Trumpist Republican.

In Vermont, you have Governor Phil Scott, who can best be described with a phrase practically unheard of these days: Liberal Republican.

Finally, newly elected Governor Jared Polis from Colorado is a moderate Democrat.

While the state importation bill failed to advance in Utah, its vociferous champion in the state assembly is a very conservative Republican, Norm Thurston (Provo).

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Trump’s Big Drug Prices Speech: Kumbaya with Importation

Trump Drug Prices SpeechToday, President Trump will be talking about drug prices and his administration’s plan to help Americans better afford prescription drugs. By permitting importation of affordable medication, the administration has a chance to really strike a populist chord and a positive one.

It’s been said that the president is going to talk about trying to force other countries, such as Canada, to raise drug prices. Instead, why not expressly allow Americans to access those lower prices through importation? It was one of the solutions offered by Trump during his campaign.

The millions of Americans, across all parties, who already import medication to fill prescriptions will wildly applaud the administration for doing so.

Can Trump use executive authority on drug prices? Yes. Under current law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, can permit individuals to import medication for personal use right now. The Secretary can also make it lawful for companies to import FDA-approved drugs at wholesale pharmacies in Canada.

America is united against high drug prices. It seems we’re only waiting for POTUS to catch up.

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