An AC Compacting LLC pill compacting machine sits on display during the International Pharmaceutical Expo (Interphex) in New York, U.S.(Photographer: Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg)

Drug Lobby Compares Trump Drug Price Plan to ‘Socialized’ System

(Bloomberg) -- The lobbying groups for U.S. drugmakers aren’t happy about President Donald Trump’s plan to borrow from Europe’s system of paying for some high-cost drugs.

On Thursday, Trump proposed cutting what Medicare pays for many costly drugs that are administered in hospitals and clinics, using a new index of prices that would bring U.S. government payments closer to what European countries pay.

“The administration is imposing foreign price controls from countries with socialized health care systems that deny their citizens access and discourage innovation,” said Steve Ubl, chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents drugmakers. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, said the administration would be “adopting foreign price controls.”

The drug industry is one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying forces, spending tens of millions of dollars a year on lobbying and political contributions. Alex Azar, Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, attended an event hosted by BIO after the presentation, saying that the plan would not hurt research and development by the industry.

“You’re going to find no more pro innovation secretary than me,” said Azar. “Yet today our actions have been accused of being so anti innovation as to be un-American by this very group.”

Trump and members of his administration have levied charges of socialized medicine at Democrats, saying a push for a “Medicare-for-all” health system would socialize American medicine.

At an event in Washington where Trump presented the proposed pricing changes, he also attacked Democrats, saying that “sadly a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives have sponsored a very socialist program that would terminate Medicare.”

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