President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order to lower drug prices such as insulin for diabetic patients while allowing the importation of medication from Canada.
“We pay 80 percent more than other nations,” Trump said at a televised signing ceremony. “That means that Americans are funding the enormous cost of drug research and development.” He added, “We are paying to reduce drug prices in a socialist country.”
One of the four executive orders will mandate discounts on insulin and EpiPens for hospitals, which would be passed down to patients.
“These providers should not be receiving discounts for themselves while charging their poorest patients massive, full prices. Under this order, the price of insulin for affected patients will come down to just pennies a day from numbers that you weren’t even able to think about. It’s a massive cost savings,” Trump said.
The president added that the United States has essentially allowed pharmaceutical companies’ “middlemen” to “bilk” Medicare payers and taxpayers.
“The middlemen are making a fortune and pharmacy benefit managers and people are just bilking Medicare patients with these high drug prices. While they pocket gigantic discounts, gigantic discounts,” he remarked.
According to his announcement, the order will also allow the United States to allow the legal importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where prices are lower, and the Medicare program will be required to purchase drugs at the same price that other countries pay.
Trump also gave a one-month ultimatum for drugmakers to propose alternative plans to reduce drug prices, adding that his administration would place a cap on American drug prices if he is not satisfied.
“We’re going to hold that until August 24, hoping that the pharmaceutical companies will come up with something that will substantially reduce drug prices,” the president said. “The clock starts right now.”
The president signed the measures in the midst of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, which has so far infected more than 3 million Americans and killed about 145,000.
The order also comes just months before the November election and at a time when pharmaceutical firms are vying to create a vaccine for the virus, commonly called the novel coronavirus. Drug companies including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Novamax, and Moderna are performing clinical trials on possible vaccines.
Months ago, in February, Trump called on members of Congress to pass a drug-pricing bill during his State of the Union address. Talks between both chambers of Congress broke down amid the COVID-19 pandemic and attempts to pass legislation to stimulate the economy in the face of rising unemployment claims and business closures.
Some Democrats in Congress said Trump’s executive order wouldn’t provide any relief.
“Trump’s failed leadership throughout the pandemic crisis has left him searching for anything to change the conversation,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the Finance Committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is more snake oil for Trump to sell on the campaign trail.”