Trump expected to tackle drug prices in State of the Union address

President Trump is once again expected to talk health care during his second annual State of the Union address – including one expense most consumers can relate to: high drug prices.

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The administration confirmed on Tuesday that health care would be highlighted during the address, as reported by CBS, after combating high drug prices was named as one of last year’s “greatest priorities.”

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued a new proposal to eliminate rebates paid for by drug companies to make sure their products are covered under Medicare and Medicaid – in a renewed attempt to tackle rising costs.

During his speech last year President Trump touted the administration’s expedition of the generics approvals process, which he said led to the approval of more new and generic drugs and medical devices “than ever before in our history.” He also specifically cited reducing drug prices as a top concern.

“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs,” he said. “In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”

The president is once again likely to tout perceived successes of his administration on Tuesday night. Last month, for example, he tweeted that prices in 2018 declined for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The president’s estimates were derived from a report from the Council of Economic Advisers, which found that relative annual drug price growth for prescription drugs slowed since January 2017. Those more slowly appreciating prices were estimated to have saved consumers $26 billion through July 2018. The group also insisted that the introduction of more brand name drugs has resulted in “implicit price reductions,” resulting in tens of billions of dollars’ worth of additional annual benefits to consumers.

A separate report conducted by The Associated Press found that while there were fewer price increases between January and July than comparable periods from years prior, companies were more likely to hike prices than cut them.

Trump successfully lobbied some pharmaceutical companies not to raise their drug prices over the summer – however many companies – including Allergan and Pfizer—did so at the beginning of 2019.

Another way the administration has targeted drug prices is through increasing competition by speeding up the generic approvals process.

In fiscal 2018, the FDA said it had approved more generics than ever before – at 971. That figure is a slight increase over 937 in the year prior.

One big win for consumers was the approval of the first ever generic competitor to the EpiPen in August, made by Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke with FOX Business in September about some of the methods the agency is using to fast-track the approvals process, while not compromising consumer safety – including restructuring clinical trials and the development process.


Gottlieb said the FDA has found that having at least three generic competitors brings prices down more sharply.

In addition to drug prices, the president is expected to lay out a plan to stop the transmissions of HIV by 2030 with more funding for treatment.