In July 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump issued four executive orders (EOs) to provide solutions to the ever-increasing price of prescription medications. One of the top domestic issues in health care is the price of prescription medication, particularly those deemed lifesaving, such as insulin for diabetics and drugs for patients with cancer. 

“The four orders that I’m signing today will completely restructure the prescription drug market, in terms of pricing and everything else, to make these medications affordable and accessible for all Americans,” President Trump said.

According to the White House:

  • The first order directs federally qualified health centers to provide discounted insulin and epinephrine to low-income Americans. 
  • The second order allows U.S. healthcare institutions to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where identical drugs cost less. 
  • The third order prohibits secret deals between drug manufacturers and pharmacy broker to ensure patients benefit from available over-the-counter discounts at the pharmacy.
  • The fourth order ensures that the United States pays the lowest price available among economically advanced countries for Medicare Part B drugs. Previously, the United States often paid 80% more than other developed nations.

However, Trump’s EOs were not met with universal acclaim. The U.S. Congress, the pharmaceutical industry, and patient advocacy groups say that they may stifle innovation and limit access.

“The president’s attempt to open our country up to socialized health care sets America, our economic recovery, and scientific progress back at a time when we need them most,” Stephen J. Ubl, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America president and chief executive officer, said.

Prescription drug pricing is a bipartisan issue and, with medication prices outpacing the inflationary index, patients are falling into debt to pay for their necessary treatment plans. That lopsided arrangement is often referred to as financial toxicity. Visit ONS Voice’s patient financial advocacy topic page for more information on supporting and advocating for patients facing financial toxicity.