Trump's Order to Lower Drug Prices Is 'Irresponsible and Unworkable,' Industry Says

The pharmaceutical industry has reacted with anger to President Donald Trump's new executive order that aims to lower drug prices for Americans. Industry bodies have condemned the move in the strongest possible terms.

The executive order signed on Sunday expands Trump's plan to lower drug prices using a "most favored nation" pricing plan. Under the plan, Medicare would refuse to pay higher prices for drugs that other developed countries can purchase at a lower cost.

"It is unacceptable that Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places," Trump's executive order said. "Other countries' governments regulate drug prices by negotiating with drug manufacturers to secure bargain prices, leaving Americans to make up the difference."

The pharmaceutical industry harshly criticized the executive order, accusing the administration of offering an "unworkable" solution.

"The focus of any reforms must be on lowering costs for patients, ensuring patients' access to medicines, addressing the misaligned incentives in the pharmaceutical supply chain and protecting the critical work being done to end COVID-19," said Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of PhRMA, a lobbying group for the industry.

"Unfortunately, instead of pursuing these reforms the White House has doubled down on a reckless attack on the very companies working around the clock to beat COVID-19."

Ubl said Trump's executive order was "an irresponsible and unworkable policy that will give foreign governments a say in how America provides access to treatments and cures for seniors and people struggling with devastating diseases."

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), also issued a statement condemning the executive order. BIO is the largest trade organization representing the biotechnology industry.

"With scientists and researchers at America's biopharmaceutical companies working around the clock to fight a deadly pandemic, it is simply dumbfounding that the Trump administration would move forward with its threat to import foreign price controls and the inevitable delays to innovation that will follow," McMurry-Heath said in a statement.

"This reckless scheme will eliminate hope for vulnerable seniors and other patients waiting for new treatments by drastically reducing investment in cutting-edge scientific research and development.

"That is why we will use every tool available—including legal action if necessary—to fight this risky foreign price control scheme. America's patients, families, scientists and researchers deserve nothing less."

Trump has made lowering prescription drug costs a major issue throughout his presidency though he's met with limited success. He defended the move on Twitter on Sunday.

"The days of global freeriding at America's expense are over ... and prices are coming down FAST! Also just ended all rebates to middlemen, further reducing prices," he said.

President Trump Campaigns in Henderson, Nevada
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures after speaking at a campaign event at Xtreme Manufacturing on September 13, 2020 in Henderson, Nevada. Trump's visit comes after Nevada Republicans blamed Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak for blocking other events he had planned in the state. Trump's executive order aims to lower drug prices. Ethan Miller/Getty Images