President Donald Trump has laid out a plan to tackle prescription drug prices in the United States.
Timothy Callaghan, Ph.D., is a health insurance policy researcher and professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. He summarizes the plan as the following points:
1. Limiting the growth of drug price increases in Medicare for drugs administered in the
doctors office to consumer inflation (CPI)
2. Requiring drug rebates negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers to go to patients using
the drugs instead of being used to reduce premiums for all policyholders
3. Requiring drug companies to disclose the cost of drugs in their TV ads in addition to the
4. Pressure other countries to raise their prescription medicine prices. Trump administration
believes other nations are freeloading off of lower prices in the US
5. Force companies to turn over samples for the creation of generic drugs and to stop
playing games with the drug patent system
But Callaghan says very little will happen immediately.
"Many of Trump's proposals will need Congressional action to take effect," said Callaghan. "And with the midterm elections this fall, it's unclear how much of this topic members of Congress will want to take on--pharmacy companies have quite a bit of money and power and won't be afraid to throw their weight around."
Critics are being vocal. Callaghan says Democrats think the government should directly negotiate with drug manufacturers and that this plan doesn't go far enough.
"Others say that consumers should be allowed to import pills from Canada, etc, where brand-name drugs often cost less," said Callaghan. This plan does not allow for that.
Callaghan says that in the end, it's difficult to tell whether this will be a good thing for Americans, especially because so much depends on Congressional action.
"Plus, it is worth noting that drug companies generally think they got off easy under this plan," said Callaghan. "Stocks of major drug companies rose after his speech, as did those of pharmacy benefit managers, or the 'middlemen.'"
For the full conversation with Callaghan, see the video player above.