Wednesday, 17 July, 2019

Braun to keep pushing to end drug rebates

Trump Administration Withdraws Drug Rebate Plan Trump Administration Withdraws Drug Rebate Plan
Anna Jefferson | 13 July, 2019, 09:48

The withdrawal of the plan is expected to put pressure on administration officials to pursue more populist proposals, from importing lower-cost drugs from other countries to basing the prices of some Medicare drugs on the lower prices paid by other countries - ideas favored by the president but reviled by the drug industry and many Republicans.

The rebate rule served as a centerpiece for the president's plan to reduce drug prices, and would've deprived PBMs of a crucial portion of their overall revenue stream. And without the middlemen negotiating drug discounts, Medicare would be on the hook for more of the costs, leading to increased insurance premiums and government spending, analysts said. Moreover, last week the president announced his intentions to deliver an executive order that would create a "favored nations" clause, where USA spending for drugs would be tied to prices paid by other countries.

The White House first launched the idea of ending the rebates past year as part of a drug pricing "blueprint" aimed at bringing down costs, an important election issue for Trump.

"Based on careful analysis and thorough consideration, the President has chose to withdraw the rebate rule", White House spokesman Judd Deere told Business Insider in a statement Thursday".

Politico first reported the planned scrapping of the rebate rule on Thursday and the White House confirmed the decision to Reuters.

President Donald Trump has for months been pushing to curtail the rebates worked out between drugmakers and third parties that manage benefits for Medicare, along with Medicaid managed care, where states contract with insurers to deliver benefits, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Deere said Trump is not backing away from his promise to lower drug prices, and the administration is setting its sights on bipartisan legislation.

Braun in March introduced the Drug Price Transparency Act, which would prohibit third-party administrators of prescription drug programs - known as pharmacy benefit managers - from receiving rebates or price reductions from pharmaceutical companies.

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PhRMA, the main pharmaceutical industry lobby group, disagreed, saying in a statement that the move ended the only government proposal that would have provided immediate savings at the pharmacy counter for patients.

Grassley said in a statement that he had concerns about the administration's rebate rule, but was confident about the prospects for legislation.

Azar also said that he and Trump are working on allowing the importation of cheaper drugs from other countries, a move Trump has endorsed but which drugmakers have long opposed. Drugmaker Merck & Co. dropped 4.5 percent while UnitedHealth climbed 5.5 percent and CVS Health gained 4.7 percent.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled on Monday that the administration did not have legal authority to require drugmakers to disclose list prices in their TV ads that were supposed to have started this week. So as far as drug price rebates go, there will be no change because of this White House reversal.

Trump first floated the idea of ending the rebates previous year as part of a drug pricing "blueprint" aimed at bringing down costs.

But congressional analysts concluded that drug companies were unlikely to lower list prices across the board in response to the plan.

"There are still many headwinds for the supply chain", he said, adding that "pharma and biotech seem to have drawn the ire of the administration more recently".

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