- The White House will withdraw a controversial plan to ban drugmaker rebates to pharmacy benefit managers in Medicare and Medicaid, stepping back from what the administration had once billed as “the most significant change in how Americans’ drugs are priced at the pharmacy counter.”
- “Based on careful analysis and thorough consideration, the President has decided to withdraw the rebate rule,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere in an emailed statement to BioPharma Dive, noting ongoing discussions about potential legislation around drug pricing. Axios first reported the news.
- Drugmakers had supported the proposed rule, which fit with pharma’s public relations campaign attacking the role played by PBMs in keeping drug costs high. Insurers, the largest of which own PBMs, were staunchly opposed, and shares in CVS Health, UnitedHealth and Cigna rose sharply Thursday on news of the rule’s withdrawal.
The Trump administration’s efforts to lower drug prices have so far centered, at least publicly, on three proposals.
Two — the rebate proposal and a plan to require drugmakers list prices in television advertisements — are now on ice after the White House’s decision to withdraw the rebate rule and a federal judge ruling this week to block the advertising requirement.
Neither setback comes entirely unexpected, as legal and political questions were raised early on for both proposals. An estimate by the Congressional Budget Office forecasting the rebate rule would increase federal spending dimmed the prospects for that plan, while drugmakers moved quickly to challenge in court the TV ad mandate.