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FiercePharmaPolitics—White House, pharma pricing talks fell apart over demand for ‘Trump Cards’: NYT

Welcome to the FiercePharma political roundup, where each Monday we’ll highlight developments in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that could affect drug pricing and how drugmakers operate. 

Amid President Donald Trump’s push to lower drug prices this summer, the White House and pharmaceutical industry nearly reached a $150 billion deal, the New York Times reports. Instead, one specific request from the administration sank the negotiations. 

After President Trump unveiled four executive orders around drug pricing back in July, the industry voiced its harshest opposition against the president’s “favored-nations” clause, which would tie prices in Medicare to lower prices abroad. After that, behind-the-scenes talks nearly yielded a deal for drug companies to pay $150 billion to help lower Medicare patients’ out-of-pocket costs, according to the Times.  

But White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows insisted the industry pay for $100 cash cards that would be sent to seniors ahead of the Nov. 3 election, according to the report. The cards would go to tens of millions of Americans to help them pay for prescriptions.

Some in the industry began calling them “Trump Cards,” according to the report. White House officials told the Times the administration didn’t plan to emblazon them with the president’s name.

In the end, PhRMA’s board concluded the cards were inappropriate so close to the November 3 election. A spokeswoman for the drug industry’s trade group told the NYT the organization “could not agree to the administration’s plan to issue one-time savings cards right before a presidential election.” 

“One-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help, nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines,” she added. 

Instead of unveiling a deal with pharma, President Trump took the wraps off his executive order earlier this month. The Biotechnology Industry Organization threatened legal action against the proposal. It remains to be seen how or when it could be implemented.

RELATED: Trump unveils favored-nation drug pricing executive order, and pharma hits back 

In a separate drug pricing development last week, a bipartisan group of more than two dozen senators wrote to HHS Alex Azar asking the agency to stop new practices from drug companies that undercut the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which provides discounts to certain hospitals and and clinics.

The program helps safety net hospitals and rural health facilities provide care in underserved areas, and the senators said companies have implemented new “burdensome requirements” on those facilities that aren’t a part of the program.

The senators say Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca, plus other unnamed companies, have set new policies that “run counter to the statute and create a dangerous and negative precedent for the 340B Program and the providers and patients it serves.” 

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