November 15, 2019 / 8:02 PM / 24 days ago

Trump says U.S. states will be able to buy prescription drugs abroad

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump departs for campaign travel to Louisiana from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Friday he would be giving U.S. states the right to buy prescription drugs from other countries, as part of a bid to boost consumer access to cheaper medicines.

“I’m going to be giving governors the right very shortly to buy ... their prescription drugs from other countries,” Trump said at a White House event accompanied by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, among other officials.

Trump said he was working with governors including Florida Republican Ron DeSantis on the plan. “They’re going to buy from other countries and skip all of the nonsense.”

Trump campaigned on a platform to reduce drug prices for U.S. consumers and has slammed the pharmaceutical industry for high prices.

Most other developed nations directly or indirectly negotiate drug pricing with companies, and in some cases may deny access to medicines they deem too expensive, while pricing in the United States is left to the free market and set by drugmakers.

Trump has floated the idea before, but it was not immediately clear how such imports would work. The idea has been mulled for years but never implemented, given U.S. regulations to ensure safety and staunch industry opposition.

Trump’s comments came after HHS announced two rules to increase price transparency among hospitals, group health plans and health insurers.

Reporting by Jeff Mason and Tim Ahmann; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown

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