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Trump deadline for drug pricing order passes with no action

A deadline set by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE for moving forward with an executive order to lower drug prices passed at midnight on Tuesday without any action so far from the White House. 

Trump held a highly touted signing ceremony on July 24 for four executive orders aimed at lowering drug prices, a key issue for voters ahead of the election. But on the most consequential of the orders, to lower certain Medicare drug prices by tying prices to those paid in other countries, Trump delayed the order for one month, until Aug. 24, saying he wanted to give the pharmaceutical industry time to make a deal.

That deadline has now come and gone, without the announcement of any deal with drug companies, yet the White House has not moved forward with the order and is not saying if it will.

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The White House declined to comment when asked about the path forward for the order on Tuesday.

The order in question is called a “most-favored nation clause” and is aimed at lowering the prices for a subset of drugs paid for by Medicare to be in line with the lower prices paid in other developed countries. 

“We’re going to hold that until Aug. 24, hoping that the pharmaceutical companies will come up with something that will substantially reduce drug prices,” Trump said at the signing ceremony in July. “And the clock starts right now. So, it’s Aug. 24 at 12 [a.m.], after which the order on favored nations will go into effect.”

Since then, Trump has repeatedly touted the order, though even now that the deadline has passed, the administration so far is not saying if it is actually going forward with implementing it.

“I did a favored nations clause, meaning we pay the same price as the lowest country that has the best deal, the companies are going crazy, the drug companies,” Trump said in remarks to the Republican National Convention on Monday.

The pharmaceutical industry, a powerful force in Washington, is fiercely opposed to the move.

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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has been in talks with the White House in recent days and has submitted an alternative proposal to the White House, sources said, amid Trump’s stated openness to a deal to avert the order, but it remains unclear if any deal will be reached.

Drug pricing advocates are urging Trump to go forward now that his deadline has passed.

“Abandoning the most-favored nation proposal at the 11th hour would be a capitulation to drug corporations,” Ben Wakana, the executive director of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, said in a statement. “If President Trump does not implement a proposal to lower the list prices of prescription drugs, he will leave Americans continuing to pay the highest prices in the world.”

PhRMA did not say what proposals it is putting forward instead, but said it supports “market-based, competitive solutions.”

“The most favored nation executive order is an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will give foreign politicians a say in how America provides access to treatments and cures for seniors and people struggling with devastating diseases,” a PhRMA spokesperson said.

“We remain committed to working with all stakeholders to identify market-based, competitive solutions that lower costs for patients, ensure patients’ access to medicines and protect the critical work being done to end COVID-19.”

--This report was updated at 3:47 p.m.