Bloomberg Law
July 23, 2020, 9:59 PM

Trump Poised to Lower Drug Payments to Match Foreign Prices

Shira Stein
Shira Stein
Alex Ruoff
Alex Ruoff
Saleha  Mohsin
Saleha Mohsin
Bloomberg News

A top Trump priority, lowering prescription drug prices, could see executive action as early as Friday, including a policy to tie Medicare payments to foreign countries’ drug prices, according to five sources familiar with the move.

The White House has also informed several lawmakers about a presidential signing event Friday

The slate of policies will also include a plan for Americans to buy lower-cost prescription medication imported from Canada. Canadian drug importation and the international pricing index have both been on the White House agenda for over a year. The index will match Medicare payments for drugs administered in a doctor’s office more closely with the lower prices other countries pay.

The order is also expected to include a policy to reduce the cost of insulin and Epi-Pens at hospitals through an existing drug discount program, the sources said. That 340B program is funded in part by drugmakers.

“With his strong record of wins to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs, including record generic approvals, lower cost insulin in Medicare, passage of the CREATES Act, and an end to pharmacy gag clauses, President Trump is determined to do even more. The President continues to explore any and all options that will deliver lower cost drugs, while ensuring we have access to the most innovative vaccines and therapeutics in the world,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

The administration plans to officially publish the international pricing index proposed rule, which has been under review at the Office of Management and Budget since June 2019. The White House and the Department of Health and Human Services have toyed with releasing that rule with several times over the last year but then put it on hold.

The administration was considering reviving a rule that would have ended the rebates that drug manufacturers pay to pharmacy liaisons, but Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma pointed out that the rule could raise premiums, according to one of the sources.

—With assistance from Justin Sink (Bloomberg News)

To contact the reporters on this story: Shira Stein in Washington at; Alex Ruoff in Washington at, Saleha Mohsin in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at