Dr David Cutler Assesses the Political Odds of Drug Pricing Reform

Legislators from both parties may have difficulty finding a common solution to high drug prices, but President Donald Trump could be instrumental in bringing prices down if he acts on his pledges, according to David M. Cutler, PhD, of Harvard University.
Published Online: July 25, 2017


Legislators from both parties may have difficulty finding a common solution to high drug prices, but President Donald Trump could be instrumental in bringing prices down if he acts on his pledges, according to David M. Cutler, PhD, of Harvard University.
 
Transcript (slightly modified)
Drug pricing is one area that Democrats and Republicans both agree on. Do you think they might be able to pass legislation addressing rising drug costs? What might it look like?
On drug costs, as with everything in healthcare, the best guess is always no change. I think both Democrats and Republicans are upset that there are people who can’t afford medications, but what they would do about it is very different, and therefore, the ability to compromise is going to be difficult here.
 
There are things they can do about the FDA, and they’re sort of doing a little bit of that, but the other major issues about things like prices of new medications, price increases, how much you can charge people who are uninsured, things like that, I don’t see a lot of agreement upon.
 
I think the wild card here is the President, whose sympathies on this seem to lie much more with the Democrats than with the Republicans. So if he decided he really wanted to do something there and he was going to work with the Democrats and bring things along, he really could force the issue more. I don’t know whether he will. So far, he’s governed as a very, very traditional right-wing Republican, and so if that’s the way he’s going to go, the odds that things happen will be very low.


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