Trump says drug importation plan coming 'soon'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE on Friday said he will “soon” be releasing a plan to allow the U.S. to import prescription drugs from abroad.

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“[Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar] and I will soon release a plan to let Florida and other States import prescription drugs that are MUCH CHEAPER than what we have now! Hard-working Americans don’t deserve to pay such high prices for the drugs they need. We are fighting DAILY to make sure this HAPPENS,” Trump tweeted.

 

Trump did not offer any details, and the Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment. A final rule that would allow states to import certain drugs from Canada has been under regulatory review at the White House Office of Management and Budget since Nov. 1.

The rule would allow pharmacists and wholesalers to import certain prescription drugs from Canada into the U.S. if they meet conditions designed to ensure that the importation poses no additional risk to safety, and will save money.

The administration’s blessing could pave the way for states such as Vermont, Florida, Colorado and Maine to begin drug importation. All of those states have passed laws that would allow the importation of prescription drugs from across the northern border.

Prescription drugs are cheaper in Canada, as in most other countries, because the government can directly negotiate the price with drug companies.

“While we had the first prescription drug price decrease in 50 years, Americans still pay far too much for drugs — other countries pay far less — that is WRONG! We will soon be putting more options on the table,” Trump tweeted.

 

Trump has made lowering drug prices a priority, and if an importation plan is successful, he could cite it as a major policy victory in a key battleground state going into the 2020 presidential election.

But even with the White House on board, the states will need to overcome hurdles, starting with the massive lobbying effort by the drug industry.

To date, almost every administrative effort on drug pricing has been blocked in court or been withdrawn in the face of opposition.

At the same time, Trump on Friday tweeted opposition to sweeping drug pricing legislation in the House from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Why Senate Republicans should eagerly call witnesses to testify Trump health chief: 'Not a need' for ObamaCare replacement plan right now MORE (D-Calif.) that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Trump expressed support for drug pricing efforts by House Republicans, but there is currently no comprehensive House GOP plan. 

Instead, members support measures like the Creates Act, a smaller bipartisan bill aimed at lowering drug prices by cracking down on delay tactics that drug companies use to fend off competition from cheaper generic drugs.

A White House spokesman has previously said Trump supports a bipartisan Senate bill from Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Mnuchin warns UK, Italy of tariffs if digital tax plans are implemented GOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTrump poised to kick off election-year fight over Medicaid Overnight Health Care: Justices won't fast-track ObamaCare case before election | New virus spreads from China to US | Collins challenger picks up Planned Parenthood endorsement Mnuchin warns UK, Italy of tariffs if digital tax plans are implemented MORE (D-Ore.). But it’s unlikely to see floor action before the end of the year, as many Republicans still oppose it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump admin releases trove of documents on Ukrainian military aid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) has also declined to support it.