‘Non-disruptive’ drug price policy

The large pharmaceutical companies breathed a huge sigh of relief on Friday when President Donald Trump outlined his plan for bringing down skyrocketing drug prices. His plan eschewed the possible measures they most dreaded, such as allowing Medicare to use its incredible volume of drug purchases to negotiate lower prices, or allowing people to purchase their drugs from countries like Canada, where they are much cheaper.

“Trump hjad a choice today: to seek disruptive fundamental reform or to embrace more incremental steps,” one financial analyst was quoted as saying. “Trump chose the incremental over the disruptive.”

So, cheers sounded all around in the big pharma board rooms as their stock prices jumped up. Meanwhile, the elderly and sick have to keep paying the exorbitant prices that the pharmaceutical companies have been ratcheting up for the past ten or 20 years.

Financial analysts who want to know about disruption should talk to those on fixed incomes who have to decide between buying food or medicine. They should talk to the people whose health insurance plans keep raising the deductibles year after year, making it harder and harder for them to buy the medicine they need. They should check with the mother of the young Minnesota man, Alec Smith, whose diabetes killed him last year because couldn’t afford to pay for the insulin he needed to control his disease.

Disruption to big pharma may be a dip in profits. Disruption to the patients who can’t afford their medicine is a lot more deadly.

President Trump should review some of the statements that Candidate Trump made about drug prices, and follow through on those campaign promises.