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Prescription Drug Pricing: A Conversation with Pro

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POLITICO Pro reporters Sarah Karlin-Smith, Sarah Owermohle, and Adam Cancryn had a conversation moderated by Health Care editor Adriel Bettelheim around growing efforts in Washington to curb rising prescription drug prices.

Read below for the top takeaways you should know to stay one step ahead.


1.  No Major Movement on Sweeping Legislation, Yet

Though both Democrats and the Trump administration have made it clear that lowering the price of prescription drugs is a priority, neither side has made a move to negotiate a larger drug overhaul package. Instead, there are smaller bills like the Creators Act or the Fair Generics Act that could be altered or re-worked to promote more generic competition in the market. This solution, while proven to lower drug pricing, does not address a larger reform of how the drug industry sets pricing.

The next big event to watch is a Congressional hearing with powerful Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) on April 9th. It will be interesting to see if the PBMs place blame on Big Pharma, just as many pharmaceutical executives placed blame on PBMs during their hearing in February.


2. States Lead on PBM Scrutiny & Pricing Legislation

Many states, like California and Maryland, have taken the initiative to introduce drug pricing legislation of their own. Yet despite legislative success, states frequently encounter problems with implementation and enforcement of new laws governing the pharmaceutical industry. Companies are quick to mount legal challenges to new state rules and many cases have resulted in laws being ruled unconstitutional. Still, state lawmakers can continue to lead in this area, and state-level policymaking will potentially shape the larger national conversation.


3. Expect to Hear About Drug Pricing in 2020 Election Cycle

Almost every Democratic presidential candidate has indicated that plans to control drug prices will be a major focus of their campaign. The Trump administration has also made it clear that the issue is a top priority. If President Trump can deliver a concrete policy improvement to lower drug prices he will certainly tout it as a signature win for his administration while he is on the campaign trail. Democratic candidates will be forced to argue the nuanced differences between their plans, given the similarity in many of their positions on this issue.


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