As U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to deliver a long-anticipated speech on Friday on curbing prescription drug costs, health industry insiders expect little in the way of policies that would hurt the drugmakers he once accused of “getting away with murder.” The speech will address the high prices set by drugmakers, rising costs for consumers and barriers to negotiating lower prices for seniors in the government’s Medicare program, senior White House officials told reporters.
Health industry sources briefed on the plans expect the policy proposals to have a relatively modest impact on the healthcare system. They also expect Trump to sharply criticize foreign governments for paying less than the United States for prescription drugs.
The president has already abandoned ideas to lower drug prices that he supported during the 2016 election campaign, including allowing the government’s Medicare plan for older Americans to negotiate prices directly with drugmakers.
Critics say the Trump administration has been swayed by the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, which increased its reported spending in Washington by 30 percent last year. Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is a former Eli Lilly & Co executive.
Earlier this week, Swiss drugmaker Novartis admitted it paid $1.2 million to a consulting firm created by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who is under investigation over a payment made to a porn star who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump more than a decade ago. Trump denies having sex with the actress.
Novartis is not accused of any illegal activity, but the disclosure raised questions over how drugmakers try to gain influence.
“The payments to Cohen are just another indicator of how deep the corrosive influence of the pharmaceutical industry goes in the Trump administration,” said Peter Maybarduk of advocacy group Public Citizen. “It makes sense that proposals we see coming out of the administration would be somewhat limited.”