Washington, DC — Today, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on drug pricing. All indications are that it’s nothing more than political cover to divert attention from his failed coronavirus response and failure to do anything to actually lower the cost of prescription drugs. Last year, Democrats in the House passed H.R. 3, which would give Medicare the power to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower drug prices — the most effective way to lower costs. The president opposed it. If the president was serious, he would have supported the House’s legislation which is overwhelmingly popular with the majority of Americans. In response to the new executive order, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement in response: 

“President Trump’s executive order is a meaningless piece of paper that will do nothing to help lower the cost of prescription drugs. The president has no credibility on this issue. He’s the one who showered drug companies with billions of dollars in tax breaks while they continue to raise prices on Americans. If President Trump really cared about lowering drug prices, he wouldn’t have opposed allowing Medicaid to negotiate for drug lower prices — the single most powerful way to reduce drug prices for Americans. The president knows that voters overwhelmingly disapprove of his leadership on health care, and today’s stunt will not change that.”

BACKGROUND: 

Trump’s Failed Record and Broken Promises on Drug Pricing

Drug prices have soared under President Trump. While drug companies have continued to raise prices, Trump rewarded them with massive tax breaks and now opposes giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug costs – the single most effective measure to do so. 

  • President Trump gave drug companies billions of dollars in tax breaks while they rake in massive profits and raise prices on Americans. 
  • Drug prices have soared under President Trump.
  • He has repeatedly talked about lowering prices based on costs in other countries, but independent experts have said his proposals would be ineffective.
  • He opposes the single most important thing you can do to lower drug prices — giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices.
  • He has repeatedly talked about lowering prices based on costs in other countries, but independent experts have said his proposals would be ineffective.

Empowered By Trump, Drug Companies Are Already Taking Advantage Of The Coronavirus Crisis

GoodRx: Pharmaceutical Companies Logged More Than 800 Price Increases In 2020 So Far. “Pharmaceutical companies logged more than 800 price increases this year, and adjusted the cost of 42 medicines upward by an average of 3.3 percent so far in July, according to GoodRx, which tracks the prices consumers pay at pharmacies. While the size of that increase is not out of line with past years, the number of branded drugs seeing hikes this month was higher than last year.” [Politico, 7/7/20

  • GoodRx Data: Drugs Treating Respiratory Illnesses Saw Above-Average Price Increases. “Three treatments for patients with respiratory illnesses but not specifically the coronavirus — Bevespi Aerosphere, Daliresp and Tyvaso — saw hikes of 5 percent, 6 percent and 4.5 percent respectively. Tyvaso’s increases over the year total 12.8 percent and bring its list price to $18,111.22.” [Politico, 7/7/20

Drug Companies Working On Covid-19 Treatments And Vaccines Boosted Their Lobbying Expenditures. “Takeda, which is working to produce a plasma treatment for Covid-19, more than doubled its lobbying expenditure in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period a year ago: From $570,000 to $1.33 million. The manufacturers Merck and AstraZeneca, both of which are attempting coronavirus vaccines, upped their spending to $2.62 million and $780,000 — increases of $315,000 and $300,000 from the same period last year, respectively. And Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of the experimental antiviral remdesivir, upped its lobbying spend from $1.08 to $1.28 million. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a trade group, spent $3.32 million, up from $3.01 million.” [Stat, 7/20/20

Gilead Set Remdesivir’s Price At $3,120 For A Course Of Treatment After Taxpayers Spent $99 Million On Its Development. “Earlier this month, Gilead Sciences announced the price of remdesivir, a drug that shows some promise in treating COVID-19. But does it show enough promise to justify its price tag—another $3,120 total for a course of treatment on private insurance—given that taxpayers spent $99 million on its development?” [Slate, 7/20/20

Axios: Drugmaker Tripled The Price Of A Pill As It Pursued Coronavirus Use. “Going into this year, the list price of a 60-pill bottle of Mytesi — an antidiarrheal medication specifically for people with HIV/AIDS who are on antiretroviral drugs — was $668.52. On April 9, Jaguar Health raised the price to $2,206.52, according to pricing data from Elsevier’s Gold Standard Drug Database. Between the lines: The price hike coincides with the company’s push to get its drug to more patients — specifically those diagnosed with COVID-19.” [Axios, 4/23/20

Associated Press: Gilead Sciences Sought Rare Disease Status For Potential Coronavirus Treatment, Which Is Potentially Worth Millions In Tax Breaks. “The pharmaceutical giant that makes a promising coronavirus drug has registered it as a rare disease treatment with U.S. regulators, a status that can potentially be worth millions in tax breaks and competition-free sales…The FDA granted the status on Monday, according to the agency’s website. If approved for coronavirus, Gilead Sciences would receive seven years of exclusive U.S. marketing for the drug and tax credits on its research and development costs.” [Associated Press, 3/25/20

  • Gilead Sciences Rescinded Request For Exclusivity After Backlash. “Gilead Sciences On Wednesday announced that it has submitted a request to the Food and Drug Administration to rescind the exclusive marketing rights it had secured for remdesivir, an antiviral drug that shows promise in treating Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. As The Intercept reported on Monday, the FDA had awarded Gilead seven years of exclusive marketing rights to the drug through the Orphan Drug Act, even though the statute was designed to induce pharmaceutical companies to make treatments for rare diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.” [The Intercept, 3/25/20]