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Trump announces plans of decreasing drug prices in US

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 12, 2018, 07:25 AM IST

File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photograph:(AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Friday unveiled his plans to lower drug prices in the US with hopes to force other countries to increase their drug prices to bring down costs at home.

The plan will focus on "increasing competition and reducing regulatory burdens so drugs can be gotten to the market quicker and cheaper," Trump said at a White House ceremony with Health Secretary Alex Azar.

"We're very much eliminating the middlemen (who) became very, very rich."

Trump's program essentially aims to lower the price of drugs for seniors and retirees covered by the Medicare social insurance program.

"It`s time to end the global freeloading once and for all. I have directed US Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer to make fixing this injustice a top priority with every trading partner," Trump said during a speech at the White House Rose Garden, Efe reported.

"We have great power over the trading partners you`re seeing that already. America will not be cheated any longer, and especially will not be cheated by foreign countries," the President added.

Trump said that foreign countries had been taking advantage of the US pharmaceutical industry and the money put in in research and development, adding that brining costs down at home would lead to higher costs abroad. Trump has accused foreign countries of being partly responsible for the astronomical US prices.

"Their medicine is a tiny fraction of what the medicine costs in the USA," Trump said, without naming countries. "It's unfair and it's ridiculous, and it's not going to happen any longer."

The US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the Trump administration will use "every tool available" to ensure other nations use fair pricing practices.

"Our trading partners need to contribute their fair share toward pharmaceutical research and development by providing robust levels of intellectual property protection and enforcement, as well as having fair and transparent drug pricing systems," Lighthizer said.

Senate Democrat Claire McCaskill welcomed Trump's crackdown on the pharmaceutical industry, but she wondered "why the president backed off the idea of Medicare negotiating drug prices directly, which could bring significant savings for millions of people."

Drug pricing has vexed US politicians for years. According to statistics of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States has the highest annual health expenditures of any industrialized country, at nearly $10,000 per capita, with drugs prices playing a major role.