FDA Chief Floats Rethinking of Laws Allowing Drug-Plan Rebates

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(Bloomberg) -- Days ahead of the expected rollout of a White House plan to tackle soaring drug prices, a top U.S. health official asked whether the legal status of drug-plan rebates should get another look.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb asked in a speech what would happen if the U.S. government re-examined the safe harbor that drug rebates have under federal antikickback laws.

“Such a step could help restore some semblance of reality to the relationship between list and negotiated prices, and thereby boost affordability and competition,” Gottlieb said in remarks prepared for an appearance at a conference of pharmaceutical-industry lawyers in Washington.

President Donald Trump, who has frequently decried the high cost of prescription drugs, is expected to unveil a plan to bring down prices next week.

The pharmaceutical industry has pushed for pharmacy-benefit managers and insurers to pass more of the rebates they negotiate on to patients. Members of Congress have wondered in hearings on high drug costs whether the rebates should be done away with entirely. None of the companies involved in the drug supply chain have backed eliminating them.

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