Trump fixates on drug prices as campaign looms - (The Washington Post via NewsPoints Desk)

  • The Washington Post reported that as President Donald Trump presses to make healthcare a central plank of his 2020 reelection bid, he appears to be increasingly frustrated with those he believes are hindering his ability to deliver on lowering drug prices.

  • According to three people with knowledge of the matter, Trump at a meeting earlier this year "fumed" about Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, whom he had charged with lowering drug prices. Shortly after the meeting, a "nervous" Azar detailed the intricacies of what he was doing to lower prices, leaving the president "bored and impatient," according to people close to the situation.

  • The news source said that under intense pressure, Azar has now reversed his long-standing opposition to ideas traditionally touted by Democrats and rejected by most Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry. "Inspired by the president’s passion, Secretary Azar has been pushing FDA to go even bigger and broader on importation," a senior administration official said Monday, but declined to detail specific policy changes.

  • Meanwhile, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney described the president's anger as focused on news coverage of drug prices, adding that Trump was pleased overall with Azar's performance, particularly the FDA's record approvals of generic drugs.

  • However, the news source cited a senior administration official as saying there was frustration at a lack of executive branch tools to lower drug prices and that some of Trump's ideas were ambitious, but unworkable.

  • It added that disagreements over how to proceed have created a policy "free-for-all" as different advisers, and the president himself, pursue what appear to be "ad hoc and sometimes dueling approaches." 

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