Photo by Alexander Willis
By ALEXANDER WILLIS
President Trump unveiled a new plan to combat prescription drug prices in the United States last week by linking them to an international index with other industrialized countries. This plan is noticeably similar to one that Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Phil Bredesen proposed only a week earlier.
“The United States will finally begin to confront one of the most unfair practices that drives up the cost of medicine in the United States,” Trump said during the announcement on October 25. “We’re taking aim at the global freeloading that forces American consumers to subsidize lower prices in foreign countries, through higher prices in our countries.”
As Trump explained, the plan would allow for Medicare to determine the prices for drugs based on prices in other developed countries. It would also have doctors receive a flat rate for drugs prescribed to patients. Previously, doctors received a roughly 6 percent commission on drugs prescribed to patients, potentially incentivizing doctors to prescribe higher priced alternatives.
Earlier in October, Bredesen unveiled a noticeably similar plan to combat drug prices in the United States, albeit with some differences. While Bredesen spoke about finding constituents in the Senate and then later negotiating with drug manufacturers on prices, his sentiment on other countries sharing the cost of research and development was essentially the same as those expressed by Trump.
“Every country ought to be to be contributing their fair share to that research, and not be something that is paid for by American taxpayers,” Bredesen said. “We’re simply saying we’re just going to buy it for you cheaper, and I think it will work.”
When asked about the similarities of Trump’s new proposal to his own plan, Bredesen said that he hadn’t spoken with Trump, and that he did not know where he came up with the idea.
“It’s in the same general category as what I proposed, but somewhat different in its detail,” Bredesen said. “I know it’s not going to happen during the middle of a tight campaign like this, but I’ve certainly offered to sit down with him or his staff members and talk it through.”
Bredesen seemed to be in favor of Trump’s new proposal. He, again, extended an invitation to speak further on the matter with the president.
“It’s the sort of thing that I think ought to get some bipartisan support,” Bredesen said. “Certainly [Trump] is someone who is known for his negotiating skills – he’s written a book about it – so it seemed to me a natural kind of alliance.”