Trump says US to unveil plans "soon" to allow states to import lower cost drugs

US President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that the Health and Human Services (HHS) department is working on a plan to let Florida and other states import prescription medicines that are "much cheaper than what we have now." He claimed that "while we had the first prescription drug price decrease in 50 years, Americans still pay far too much for drugs," adding that his administration would "soon be putting more options on the table."

In July, HHS outlined ways for the US to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries in a bid to lower drug costs (for additional analysis, read ViewPoints: Much ado about nothing- drug importation scheme lacks lustre). Canadian officials have come out against such an idea, saying increased drug exports to the US could potentially lead to shortages in Canada. Meanwhile, Trump has also said his administration was working on an executive order to implement a so-called "favoured nations" plan under which the US would pay no more for drugs than the country with the lowest prescription prices. 

In his Twitter posts on Friday, Trump also criticised US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's drug pricing bill, introduced in September, saying it "doesn't do the trick." Under Pelosi's proposed legislation, HHS would be permitted to negotiate the prices of at least 25 of the most expensive drugs lacking generic alternatives and as many as 250 other medicines. 

A preliminary analysis from the Congressional Budget Office has said the bill would save Medicare $345 billion over 10 years, although a more recent analysis commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) suggests it could result in at least 56 fewer new medicines for patients over a decade. Earlier this month, the White House indicated that Trump was rejecting Pelosi's plan and would instead back bipartisan legislation pending in the US Senate.

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