Despite repeated promises, President Trump has so far failed to produce any meaningful or permanent reductions in prescription drug prices. A short-lived reprieve from yearly drug price increases has ended on the first of the year and drug makers are sliding back into business as usual. Newly empowered Democrats in Congress are making it clear: skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices are a major priority for them and their constituents.
The high cost of prescription drugs featured prominently in Trump’s rhetoric, both in his campaign promises and on his Twitter feed. Amid vocal complaints, Pfizer, followed by industry giants including Bayer, Novartis, Allergen, AstraZeneca and Amgen, agreed to defer planned price raises until January 2019 in order to give the President time to roll out a plan to transform the industry.
Despite sweeping changes in the blueprint of Trump’s plan, the Department of Health and Human Services has accomplished very little. Much of what has been put forward has faced harsh opposition from many angles, including from legislators from Trump’s own Republican party.
Sadly, the honeymoon appears to be well and truly over: while drug makers kept their promise last year, 2019 has ushered in price hikes on more than 250 prescription drugs, including the global top seller, Humira as well as many critical medications used primarily by seniors.
A study published on Monday in the journal Health Affairs is especially damning: the report states that soaring prescription drug prices in the United States are largely caused by one thing: price increases by drug companies. According to the report, during the period from 2008 to 2016, the cost of brand-name oral medications grew over 9% annually, while injectable drugs increased by more than 15% during the same time frame.
On Monday, Democratic members of the House, led by Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), have announced a wide-ranging probe into pharmaceutical drug pricing policies. Requests for information have already been sent to twelve major drug companies to gain insight into drug companies’ pricing methods. Three other bills were also introduced last week with the stated goal of lowering drug costs for American consumers.