US President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order aimed at cutting high medicine prices for seniors.
In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, Trump wrote: "My Most Favored Nation order will ensure that our Country gets the same low price Big Pharma gives to other countries".
"The days of global freeriding at America’s expense are over and prices are coming down FAST! Also just ended all rebates to middlemen, further reducing prices."
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2020
The president did not reveal details of the order in his tweet, but the text of the order on the White House website explained that the federally-funded Medicare system for over-65s would only pay the “most-favored-nation price” - or lowest available in any Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member state with a "comparable" level of economic development.
"Americans pay more per capita for prescription drugs than residents of any other developed country in the world," reads the preamble of the order. "It is unacceptable that Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places."
"Other countries’ governments regulate drug prices by negotiating with drug manufacturers to secure bargain prices, leaving Americans to make up the difference — effectively subsidizing innovation and lower-cost drugs for the rest of the world," it stressed.
The order is not Trump's first move against 'Big Pharma'. In July he signed four orders designed to reduce prescription drug prices, including by allowing discounts and the import of cheaper products from abroad.
In 2018 he accused foreign firms of price-gouging on the US market, charging far more for drugs than in other countries.
"For decades, other countries have rigged the system so that American people are charged much more for the exact same drug," he said. "Drug companies in foreign countries will be held accountable for how they rigged the system against American consumers."
Trade body the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America hit back, with CEO Stephen J Ubl insisting: "The administration is creating a huge disincentive to invest in U.S. biopharmaceutical research and manufacturing."
Ubl said the order forced firms to shift "critical attention and resources" away from work on COVID-19 to restructuring business models to comply with the executive orders.
Trump slammed drug company TV adverts claiming his policies would raise prices for the elderly, tweeting: "What I have done will lead to a 50% REDUCTION in prices, at least, & Big Pharma is not happy about it."