WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed on Friday to “derail the gravy train for special interests” as he outlined a strategy intended to lower the cost of prescription drugs by promoting tougher negotiation, more competition and measures to stop foreign countries from taking advantage of American industry.
Mr. Trump said the current system has been corrupted by greedy businesses and middlemen who have made “an absolute fortune” through “dishonest double-dealing” at the expense of consumers who need medicine to extend or improve their lives.
“Everyone involved in the broken system — the drug makers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers and many others — contribute to the problem,” he said in a speech in the Rose Garden. “Government has also been part of the problem because previous leaders turned a blind eye to this incredible abuse. But under this administration we are putting American patients first.”
Mr. Trump’s plan, however, is a break from what he promised on the campaign trail. It does not authorize the government to use its huge purchasing power to obtain lower prices by negotiating directly with drug manufacturers. Nor does it expand the ability of American consumers to import low-cost prescriptions from abroad.
On Friday, Mr. Trump laid out a different approach, saying his administration would cut out the middleman, provide new tools to Medicare to negotiate lower prices, stop limiting pharmacists from helping patients save money and speed up approval of over-the-counter medicines so that fewer will require prescriptions.
He also directed his trade representative to make it a priority to stop foreign countries from forcing American drug makers to provide medicines at drastically lower prices than in the United States. “It’s time to end the global freeloading once and for all,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump’s plan includes ideas that experts say could help lower drug prices.
“It’s framed as a pro-competitive agenda, and touches on a range of government programs that the administration can change through regulation — so that the president can take unilateral action,” said Daniel N. Mendelson, the president of Avalere Health, a research and consulting company. “The trick here for the administration is to do something visible before the midterm elections, so they can take credit for an action that reduces drug prices for consumers.”
Republicans are eager to show an achievement on health care this year to counter arguments by Democrats who say that Americans are losing coverage because of Mr. Trump’s efforts to sabotage the