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White House vets foreign drug pricing idea; Trump creates Right to Try confusion | S&P Global Market Intelligence

Health and Human Services has sent its proposal to test an international drug pricing index model to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, signaling the administration is serious about pursuing the idea.

The administration in October 2018 initially issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking — a bureaucratic mechanism used to gauge public opinion ahead of making a formal proposal.

Over the past several months, officials have only been willing to say HHS was reviewing the public comments it received and declined to say if or when the administration would move forward with an official proposal.

The brand-name drug industry has strongly opposed the plan, calling it an attempt to impose “foreign price controls from countries with socialist healthcare systems that deny their citizens access and discourage innovation.”

Last week, Merck & Co. Inc. CEO Kenneth Frazier told reporters he expected the proposal to face legal challenges if the model is implemented.

Some Republicans have also objected to it, including Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who told reporters last week he doubted the approach would benefit the adoption of and research for modern therapies.

Under the program, Medicare would pay for injectable drugs administered in doctors’ offices or at clinics based on international prices.

Administration officials estimated the experiment could save the Medicare program and American taxpayers $17.2 billion over five years.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and others on Capitol Hill have proposed their own versions of the approach.

A survey from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 65% of Americans favored basing prices for drugs paid for by Medicare on the amounts other countries pay.

It is unclear how long the pricing proposal will stay under review at OMB and if the administration will make it official, at which point it would undergo another comment period.

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White House vets foreign drug pricing idea; Trump creates Right to Try confusion | S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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