Health Advice



Biden's July executive order includes drug pricing provisions. But will they do enough?

Victoria Knight, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

It’s important to note that the FTC is an independent agency, so Biden’s principal means of influencing drug policy comes from his appointments to the agency, said Fiedler. It does seem likely, though, he added, that the newly appointed FTC chair would be sympathetic to cracking down on market conduct that delays the entry of generic drugs or biosimilars.

Still, reducing drug prices by 60% would require legislation, said the AEI’s Ippolito.

“And the most disruptive drug pricing reforms — those that could even sniff that kind of price reduction — are also the most unlikely to pass,” Ippolito wrote in an email. “In short, I suspect that this executive order isn’t going to make much headway.”

Trump also promised last year on the campaign trail that he would lower drug prices by 60%, after repeatedly promising to reduce medication costs during his four years in office. However, little progress was made toward that goal despite several related executive orders in 2020.

While Biden’s executive order has a different focus than most of the Trump-era drug pricing orders, the Biden administration has signaled it may still be open to embracing some of those policies.

Trump’s directives focused on rebates paid to pharmacy benefit managers being rerouted to beneficiaries, reducing the cost of insulin by compelling federally qualified health centers to make the drugs available at low prices to low-income people, importing drugs from Canada and tying drug prices to the prices paid in other countries.

Three proposed rules that resulted from Trump’s orders are being kept around by the Biden administration — at least for the time being. One is the “Most Favored Nation Model.” This rule is supposed to match U.S. prices for certain classes of drugs with the lower amounts paid in countries that negotiate drug prices.

According to Politico, the Biden administration’s regulatory office received the rule this month, which means there may be a new public comment period before the rule is finalized — though it’s likely this would take some time.


And, of course, there’s the pending Trump administration rule on drug importation, currently tied up in court.

Trump’s rebate rule, meanwhile, has also been delayed. The Biden administration pushed back its effective date to January 2023. Freezing the rule was part of the Biden administration’s policy to review any rules finalized in the final months of Trump’s term.

No other Trump drug pricing efforts made much headway. Instead, they drew a fair amount of industry pushback.

And it remains to be seen whether Biden’s directives will fare any better.

Experts agreed that most likely congressional action would be needed to achieve a 60% reduction in prices. With over three years left in Biden’s term, who knows what could still happen?

For now, we rate these promises “In the Works.”

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