Trump Signs 2 Drug Pricing Bills, HHS Secretary Promises ‘More to Come’
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed the Know the Lowest Price Act and the Patients’ Right to Know Drug Prices Act, which earned bipartisan Congressional support. As he signed the bills, Trump promised that patients “will be able to see pricing, and they’ll be able to see where they should go, and as they start leaving certain pharmacies, those pharmacies will be dropping their prices,” according to NBC.
After the signing, Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar added that there’s “more to come” from the administration when it comes to fixing drug costs and transparency in pricing.
“There’s no one single step that solves all of those issues around drug pricing. We’re chipping away at them,” Azar said in an interview Wednesday with Axios in which he explained that signing these pieces of legislation is only one of many further actions the Trump administration plans to take in order to lower prescription prices. Azar added, “We’re taking on anybody that we need to take on.”
The Know the Lowest Price Act and the Patients’ Right to Know Drug Prices Act do away with pharmacy “gag” clauses, legislation which is meant to reduce opacity in pharmaceutical pricing.
So-called “gag” clauses are sometimes enforced by pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), the middlemen authorized to administer drug programs on behalf of insurance companies. Because they work for insurers, PBMs sometimes use “gag” clauses to prevent pharmacists from informing patients if a prescription would be cheaper if purchased out-of-pocket rather than through their health insurance plan.
Trump has offered tough talk on drug prices, saying Big Pharma is “getting away with murder.” Back in May, Trump gave a speech in which he promised these types of regulatory changes would soon begin, including creating incentives to lower list drug prices and methods to reduce patient’s out-of-pocket spending. It looks like he may indeed just be getting started.