President Trump reinvigorated the drug price policy debate by recently stating that prescription drug prices “are out of control” and, for a second time, that drug companies are “getting away with murder”. He’s expected to soon announce a bi-partisan drug price task force to examine prescription drug costs. The president’s renewed focus on lowering drug costs is a relief from the misaligned priority of healthcare reform, which seems to have overshadowed Americans most pressing healthcare concern: soaring drug costs.
In his most recent remarks, President Trump focused on the fact that prescription drugs are much cheaper in other countries. In fact, it’s common for brand-name prescription drug prices to be as much as 90 percent lower in pharmacies outside the U.S., which is why millions of Americans, despite federal restrictions, have had to import medication from Canada and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the law and misleading public information campaigns sponsored by drug companies scare Americans away from more affordable medication.
Although the president has not publicly backed any legislation, he can take action right now to ease the drug affordability crisis. In Prescription Justice’s Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration, we identify executive authorities to help more Americans access lower-cost medications through properly vetted online pharmacies. Under current law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority to revise regulations on enforcement discretion to permit safe personal drug importation.
The prescription drug price crisis in this nation is reaching widespread proportions. Tens of millions of Americans have had to forgo their medications because they simply can’t afford it. When one in four Americans have had to choose between their medications and a necessity like food or housing, it is clearly time to take action.
The American public, both Republicans and Democrats alike, overwhelming support access to lower-cost medications through safe prescription drug importation. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump declared support for allowing Americans to import lower-cost medications as part of his seven-point healthcare plan. We urge the president to follow through on his campaign promise and use his executive authority to expand access to safe, lower-cost medications for Americans…at no cost to the government. By doing so, it could be a unifying moment for both parties.