Trump signs new exec order aimed at lowering drug prices

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order Sept. 13 aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs. 

The president signed four executive orders targeting drug prices in July, with one set to cover Medicare Part B drugs. He said that order would go into effect Aug. 24 if drugmakers didn't take steps to lower their prices, but that deadline passed with no action, The New York Times reported. On Sept. 13, he revoked that order and issued a new, expanded order that also covers Medicare Part D drugs.

"It is unacceptable that Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places. Other countries' governments regulate drug prices by negotiating with drug manufacturers to secure bargain prices, leaving Americans to make up the difference — effectively subsidizing innovation and lower-cost drugs for the rest of the world," the order states. 

The new order directs HHS Secretary Alex Azar to begin the process of creating model programs requiring Medicare to pay the same prices for prescription drugs as those in Europe and other developed countries. That process could take months and would almost certainly be challenged in court, the Times reported. 

Experts say it is unclear whether the White House has the authority to carry the order out, according to the Times. Calling for the HHS Secretary to set up the model programs relies on the administration's authority under the Affordable Care Act, which the president and other Republicans are trying to overturn in the Supreme Court. 

The pharmaceutical industry denounced the order. Stephen Ubl, the CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drug industry's largest trade group, told the Times: "The administration has chosen to pursue the most favored nation policy — an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will give foreign governments a say in how America provides access to treatments and cures for seniors and people struggling with devastating diseases. What’s worse is that they are now expanding the policy to include medicines in both Medicare Part B and Part D, an overreach that further threatens America’s innovation leadership and puts access to medicines for tens of millions of seniors at risk."

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