February 28, 2017 Blogs

Drug Price Debate Could Stall, Unless Consumers Get Engaged

February 28, 2017

Steven Findlay

It’s still unclear whether Congress or the Trump administration will try to tackle the prescription drug price/cost issue this year. Amid ACA repeal and replace, and possible Medicaid and Medicare reform fights, it seems a stretch.

In recent weeks, Trump has also changed his tune on the subject. Soaring prescription prices were a populist rallying cry at his campaign stops pre-election and then pre-inauguration. (“They’re getting away with murder,” he bellowed, referring to drug companies.)

But, fitting a post-inauguration pattern, Trump softened his message after a get-together with pharmaceutical executives on Jan. 31. He mentioned increasing competition and “bidding wars” as a way to bring prices down—whatever that means.

As for Congress, the issue stirs hand wringing and rhetoric but no concrete proposals from either side of the aisle so far.

So it’s quite possible that the best that can be hoped for in 2017 is to lay the groundwork for action in 2018-19.

Apart from the usual stakeholders—drug companies, pharmacy benefit managers, drug store chains, insurers, employers, and consumer advocates—three groups are poised to impact this debate. One has been around for a while. The other two are new. All three could help you track this issue and/or get involved, depending on your perspective.


Patients For Affordable Drugs is the only independent national patient organization focused exclusively on achieving policy changes to lower the price of prescription drugs.