May 18,2018

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Taylor Harvey and Keith Chu (202) 224-4515

Wyden: Trump Drug Plan Will Give Pharma an Overseas Windfall Without Lowering Prices for Americans

In Letter to Trump Administration, Ranking Finance Democrat Asks for Evidence Trump Plan Will Help American Families

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today asked Trump Administration officials to clarify the trade aspects of the president’s recently announced plan to address the high price of prescription drugs. Since the plan’s release last week, details about how trade would be used to help Americans consumers have not been released, despite the president’s remarks that he would “demand fairness overseas.”

“The president’s claims suggest that rather than trying to lower drug prices in the U.S., he is focused on raising prices on consumers overseas,” Wyden wrote. “Given the seriousness of the problem of drug costs for Americans, this Administration should be focused on practical solutions that will produce a demonstrated benefit to consumers in the near term, not policies designed simply to enrich drug manufacturers.”

In a letter, sent to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, and National Economic Council (NEC) Director Larry Kudlow, Wyden outlined the lack of details in the president’s proposal, and the lack of evidence that U.S. trade agreements have had an effect on domestic drug prices. In his speech unveiling his plan at the White House on May 11, 2018, the president stated, “When foreign governments extort unreasonably low prices from U.S. drug makers, Americans have to pay more to subsidize the enormous cost of research and development.”

Wyden also raised concerns that any higher prices drug makers are able to achieve abroad would not result in lower prices at home.

“If recent experience from tax legislation -- which dramatically reduced corporate taxes for pharmaceutical drug companies -- is any indication, drug companies will not use their windfall to lower the price of their products and instead will simply reward shareholders worldwide with stock buybacks and other actions that don’t benefit American consumers.”

Last month, Wyden released a report detailing how health insurance, pharmaceutical and other health care corporations will receive $100 billion in tax cuts over the next 10 years.

The letter can be found here.