What President Trump said about drug pricing in the State of the Union

February 5, 2020
As we predicted, President Trump talked about drug pricing in last night’s State of the Union. Here’s exactly what he said, in about 550 words, or just over 2 minutes.
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As we predicted, President Trump talked about drug pricing in last night’s State of the Union. Here’s exactly what he said, in about 550 words, or just over 2 minutes.

What Trump said about drug pricing (and a few other things) in the State of the Union
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Did you miss the State of the Union? Let's deconstruct exactly what was said.

Prescription drugs took the spotlight: "My administration is also taking on the big pharmaceutical companies. We have approved a record number of affordable generic drugs, and medicines are being approved by the FDA at a faster clip than ever before. And I was pleased to announce last year that, for the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs actually went down."

And President Trump called for a bipartisan effort to bring down drug costs: "Working together, Congress can reduce drug prices substantially from current levels. I’ve been speaking to Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and others in Congress in order to get something on drug pricing done, and done quickly and properly. I’m calling for bipartisan legislation that achieves the goal of dramatically lowering prescription drug prices. Get a bill on my desk, and I will sign it into law immediately."

Wait—I thought he said drug prices are down? They are, and other categories of health care spending are up

Then, Democrats used the opportunity to call for H.R. 3, interrupting the speech to chant about the bill, which includes an international price index the White House’s own economic advisers said would make us miss out on potentially 100 new cures over the next decade.

And then, Trump touted America’s leadership in developing new cures: "We have launched ambitious new initiatives to substantially improve care for Americans with kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and those struggling with mental health, and because Congress was so good as to fund my request, new cures for childhood cancer, and we will eradicate the AIDS epidemic in America by the end of this decade." He also touted the United States’ leadership in working to find a vaccine for the new coronavirus, too. 

But good luck bringing those cures to market if you enact artificial price controls—which both investors AND innovative biopharma startups have said would stymie investment in new cures.

He also mentioned his trade deals and how they will expand American exportsbut really, nothing to report here that he hasn't said before, so we'll go back to drug pricing. 

What they’re saying: "President Trump’s clear call to action to pass bipartisan legislation is exactly the type of leadership needed to get the job done," said Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley in a statement after the speech

But WE say international price indexing will do only two things: dry up investment in new cures, and reduce Americans’ access to the cures that do make it to the market, without doing anything to lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs, as BIO CEO Jim Greenwood explains in a new video.

 
 
 
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President Trump’s Wednesday: Lunch with the Secretary of Defense. Following the vote-count chaos, our friends at Lunchtime Politics say Donald Trump was the real winner of the Iowa caucuses.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate is expected to vote to acquit Trump. And believe it or not, there are several hearings of note happening in the House, including a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing on the health risks of climate change, a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the coronavirus, a Science, Space, & Technology Committee hearing on renewable energy, AND a Ways & Means Health Subcommittee hearing on overcoming barriers to more cures.

 
 
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