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June 19, 2018

An Incomplete Prescription: President Trump’s Plan to Address High Drug Prices

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL), Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2018;319(23):2373-2374. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7424

On May 11, 2018, following up on his often-repeated campaign statements on lowering drug costs, President Donald Trump announced a new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “blueprint” to address and counteract high US prescription drug prices.1 The need is clear. In March, a Senate committee reported that list prices for the 20 most-prescribed brand-name drugs for patients older than 65 years had increased 71% since 2012; the Consumer Price Index, by contrast, increased 9% during that period.2 In a recent international comparison of health care costs, US pharmaceutical prices were nearly double those of 10 other high-income countries.3 Anticipating continued steady price markups and ever-higher launch prices, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has forecast that net spending for retail drugs will increase 6% each year between 2017 and 2026, faster than any other major health care good or service.4