Ahead of tonight’s first presidential debate, President Trump is doubling down on hitting Big Pharma over drug pricing.
While there’s been plenty of mainstream media ink spilled on Big Pharma refusing to offer discounts to customers ahead of the election ostensibly because the industry fears being “seen as [offering] an 11th-hour political boost for Mr. Trump,” hardly anyone seems to have noticed this move from the Trump administration last week.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION REBUKES ELI LILLY: The Health and Human Services Department’s top “lawyer in a new letter sharply criticized Eli Lilly and Company‘s recent decision to significantly curtail the number of drugsit sells certain hospitals and clinics through a federal discount program, representing the first official government rebuke of similar moves in the pharmaceutical industry,” POLITICO’s Susannah Luthi report. Robert Charrow, the agency’s general counsel, “said he’s still reviewing the legality of Eli Lilly’s cutbacks in the 340B program, but he criticized how the company went about halting the generous discounts, pointing to tough economic conditions as the company’s stock has soared.”
— “Eli Lilly was one of five companies to recently flout the rules manufacturers long followed in the 340B program, in which certain hospitals qualify for drug discounts on the condition that the savings goes toward helping poor people in their community — although the discounts themselves aren’t necessarily passed on to patients. … Eli Lilly on Sept. 1 stopped giving discounts to pharmacies contracted to hospitals and clinics in the program for all drugs except insulin, so long as the pharmacy doesn’t also charge patients or insurance companies for dispensing the insulin. Merck, AstraZeneca, Sanofiand Novartis have each started similar policies.”
The rebuke of Eli Lilly is particularly noteworthy because HHS Secretary Alex Azar was, before entering the administration, an Eli Lilly executive.
Separate to the “Trump Card” drug discount cards the White House was determined to wrest from Big Pharma and the Eli Lilly move, the Trump White House and Trump campaign have been putting drug prices front and center as November approaches.
The President has also unveiled several executive orders focused on drug pricing, and last year mandated ceiling prices and transparency in pricing for drugs in a federal discount program, putting the lie to claims from Speaker Nancy Pelosi that his focus on drug pricing is exclusively an election-year gimmick.
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