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CEO DATELINE – Citing pandemic, associations blast executive order on drug prices

Sept. 14, 2020
By Walt Williams

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump Sept. 11 seeks to lower U.S. drug prices by tying them to prices in other countries, but groups representing pharmaceutical manufacturers say it will slow new medical innovation as the nation races to develop COVID-19 treatments.

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The “Most Favored Nation” order directs Medicare to pay no more for medicines than the lowest price paid among wealthy nations, according to Reuters news agency. It extends an existing July order that applied the rule to drugs distributed by health clinics and doctor’s offices and expands it to cover pharmacies.

Groups such as the Biotechnology Innovation Organization immediately criticized the order. In a statement, CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath said that with pharmaceutical companies scrambling to develop treatments for COVID-19, “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.

“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,” she added.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America CEO Stephen Ubl also pointed to the work his member companies were doing on COVID-19, calling the order a “reckless attack” on the industry.

“Rather than emulating countries that allow politicians to arbitrarily decide what medicines are worth and what diseases are worth investing in, we should use existing trade enforcement tools to prevent them from freeloading off American innovation,” he said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also weighed in with a statement.

“Importing price controls from foreign countries is flawed and dangerous policy that will result in a substantial reduction in investment in new cures and drugs at the worst possible time,” Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said. “We are all relying on America’s pharmaceutical innovators at this critical time.”