PhRMA expresses ‘serious concerns’ with Trump drug pricing proposals
The main drug industry lobbying group on Tuesday said that it had “serious concerns” with major elements of President Trump’s new plan to bring down drug prices.
In the first extended remarks on the plan since Trump unveiled it last Friday, Lori Reilly, an executive vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), pointed to several proposals she said would harm patient access to drugs.
Democrats and some other observers have criticized Trump’s plan for not going far enough to take on drug companies. For example, the plan does not include a call for Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly.
But Reilly’s comments indicate that the pharmaceutical industry is still going to fight some major elements of the plan.
She said PhRMA had “serious concerns” about the administration’s proposals to move drugs from Medicare Part B into Part D. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar has criticized Part B for lacking competition and said taxpayers could get a better deal with the negotiation by private players in Part D.
Reilly countered that patients often have lower out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part B than in Part D.
“We have concerns about patient affordability and access,” she said at a panel hosted by the Alliance for Health Policy.
Proponents say drug companies are simply worried about getting paid less under the shift.
President Obama proposed a similar change to Medicare Part B drug spending but eventually scrapped it in the face of fierce pushback from drug companies, as well as doctors groups.
Reilly also raised concerns about the proposal to allow more negotiation in Medicare Part D’s “protected classes,” where insurers are required to cover all of the drugs in certain categories, like antidepressants.
Azar, a former drug company executive himself, said in a speech Monday that he is moving past the “tired talking points” of the industry that lowering prices would harm innovation.
Asked to respond, Reilly said the industry agrees there needs to be a change, for example moving to a system where companies are paid based on how well their drugs work, but that the changes should not be harmful.
“I read his comments to say that things are changing,” she said. “We understand that is going to happen. I think our concern is change in the right places.”