Trump says drug importation plan coming 'soon'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed 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To date, almost every administrative effort on drug pricing has been blocked in court or been withdrawn in the face of opposition.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 PelosiTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Sherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Turf war derails push on surprise medical bills | Bill would tax e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaign | .5M ad blitz backs vulnerable Dems on drug prices 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 GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Horowitz did not find evidence Obama asked for probe of Trump MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report Trump administration approves Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina 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 McConnellSherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' McConnell: Bevin pardons 'completely inappropriate' House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal MORE (R-Ky.) has also declined to support it.