- A week after President Donald Trump directed his top trade rep to help curb drug costs, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote administration officials requesting information on how the U.S. Trade Representative plans to lower drug costs through new trade agreements.
- The senior Democrat doubts that pharmaceutical companies would pass on increased revenue to American consumers. He pointed to last year’s corporate tax cuts, which allowed pharmas to bring back billions stored overseas but did not result in big price drops, as evidence to be skeptical.
- The generic drug lobby, the Association for Accessible Medicines, previously raised concerns that proposed tariffs by the Trump administration on active pharmaceutical ingredients and products from China would lead to increased manufacturing costs and higher drug prices for U.S. consumers.
In a speech about plans to lower drug pricing earlier this month, President Trump said he found it unacceptable that other countries pay a tiny fraction of what the U.S. does on drugs, characterizing Americans subsidizing a disproportionate amount of research and development costs.
"It's time to end the global freeloading once and for all. I have directed U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer to make fixing this injustice a top priority with every trading partner," Trump said during his Rose Garden speech announcing his long-awaited proposals.
Wyden pushed back against Trump’s framing of the issue, saying that the U.S. should instead focus on policy solutions that immediately benefit Americans.
"I am both puzzled and concerned by the President's apparent belief that if the U.S. negotiates trade agreements that result in higher drug prices abroad, itself a difficult scenario to envision without significant concessions in other areas, pharmaceutical companies will use their increased foreign profits to lower domestic prices," Wyden said.
The letter, sent to Lighthizer, National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow and the U.S. Departmernt of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday, came on the second day of administration trade discussions with a delegation from China.
While it's unclear how the administration will make good on Trump's promise to use trade powers to lower prices, the generic drug industry has warned that hitting China would be counterproductive.
"We are concerned that the proposed tariffs may lead to increased costs of manufacturing for generics and biosimilars and thus higher prescription drug prices for patients in the U.S.," AAM SVP Jeff Francer said in a statement in April.