LONDON, 10 May (APM) - U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to allow U.S. states to buy medicines from other countries if they are cheaper after once again slamming the pharmaceutical industry for high drug prices.
According to a report
by Thompson Reuters on Thursday, Trump was speaking at a White House event on hospital billing, where he reprimanded drugmakers for what he said are unfair practices that give other countries better deals than in the U.S.
"We may allow states to buy drugs in other countries if we can buy them for ... a substantially less price," the President said, according to the news agency. "The drug companies have treated us very, very unfairly."
Trump's comments follow his previous calls for a global reference price, whereby U.S. drug prices on state funded programmes under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) would be based on prices paid elsewhere in the world (APMHE 60322
). He accused other countries of "freeloading" off U.S. patients, who Trump said pay the highest drug prices in the world.
Experts have previously told APM that commercial plans in the U.S. also base their pricing levels on those negotiated by CMS, and so any such policy could have wide implications (APMHE 62638
Pharma are set against the concept, with some of the loudest critics including Novartis (APMHE 61666
), Merck & Co (APMHE 62844
), and even international reimbursement experts including chief of the UK's healthcare guidance body NICE, Sir Andrew Dillon (APMHE 62181
Those against the plan have argued the U.S. system would be weakened, and that it is impossible to compare with other markets such as those in Europe, which - unlike the U.S.' largely private system - are public payer-based.
Reuters' report adds that it has not been made clear how Trump's administration would move to import medicines from abroad. The idea has been bandied around for years, but has never been implemented, given U.S. regulations to ensure safety and efficacy, Reuters said, adding there has also been staunch opposition from industry.
"The rules and regulations within our country have been absolutely atrocious," it went on to quote Trump as saying.
"We will allow them, with certain permissions, to go to other countries if they can buy them for 40, 50, 60%," Trump added. "It’s pretty pathetic but that’s the way it works."