South Court Auditorium Washington D.C. July 24 3:45 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much. Well, thank you very much, everybody. Please. (Applause.)
This promises to be a very big and very important meeting, so bear with me. Take a little while. But it has to do with a thing called "drug pricing." And as you know, Congress has been working on this for decades and decades. And we are now doing something that is going to be incredible for the American public.
So today, I'm taking a bold and historic, very dramatic action to reduce the price of prescription drugs for American patients and American seniors.
Previous administrations did nothing — absolutely nothing — as drug lobbyists, special interests, and foreign countries freely ripped off our citizens. Under the last administration alone, drug prices rose a staggering 55 percent. Thanks to my administration's aggressive actions since taking office, we have successfully lowered drug prices for the first time in 51 years. But this reduction is still not close to what I want, what I expect. And I'm looking for help for our great seniors especially, in particular. And that's what we're doing today. You'll hear something which will be very shocking because we're doing things that nobody thought could be done. And it's going to have an incredible impact.
Unfortunately, we've been waiting for Congress to take action for many decades to reduce drug prices for more than — more than just a small handful of people. But even the small handful of people never got price reductions — and I'm unwilling to wait any longer.
Therefore, today I'm signing four sweeping executive orders that will lead to massive reduction in drug costs. Massive. We've already gotten them down a little bit, but that's not good enough. First time in 51 years, as I said — but that's not good enough. They represent the most far-reaching prescription drug reforms ever issued by a President. Nothing even close.
Joining us for this important occasion, our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex — where's Alex? Thank you. Alex Azar.
CMS Administrator — you're both doing a great job — Seema Verma. Seema. Thank you, Seema.
FDA administrator, Dr. Stephen Hahn. Stephen, who's really speeding up the process of therapeutics and vaccines. And I just heard from some of the big drug companies, and they're saying the FDA has really been moving the process along. That's very important, Stephen. Can you move it faster, please? Okay. (Laughter.) Thank you. Great job. We appreciate it.
And Administrator of Health Resources and Services Administration, Tom Engels. Tom, thank you. Thank you very much, Tom, for being here.
We're also pleased to have with us our great governor from the State of Florida — incredible state, incredible guy -Governor Ron DeSantis. Thank you, Ron, very much. Appreciate it. And you're going to say a few words in the end? Good.
Representative Matt Gaetz, our friend. Where is — hi, Matt. You're so quiet back there today. I've never seen you like that. Thank you, Matt. Great job you're doing. Appreciate it very much.
Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, José Oliva. José. Thank you, José, very much. Good job.
And many other state and local leaders. We have a lot of them. Thank you very much for being here.
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.
The first order will require federal community health centers to pass the giant discounts they receive from drug companies on insulin and EpiPens directly to their patients. You know, insulin became so expensive, people weren't able to use it. They desperately needed it. We have it to a level that you're not going to believe. EpiPens, likewise — you've been reading horrible stories about EpiPens over the last six, seven years. Horrible, horrible, horrible increases, where they went from almost nothing to massive amounts of money. We're changing that right now.
These providers should not be receiving discounts for themselves while charging their poorest patients massive, full prices. Under this order, the price of insulin for affected patients will come down to just pennies a day — pennies a day from numbers that you weren't even able to think about. It's a massive cost savings.
The second executive order I'm signing this afternoon will allow states, wholesalers, and pharmacies to do something other politicians have promised for decades and decades, but never done. They never delivered. We will finally allow the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries where the price for the identical drug is incredibly lower. It's a difference like you wouldn't believe — 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent, 30 percent — but massively lower than the identical drug made in the same plant, the same factory. The same exact drug — same everything, same box, same pill — and yet, it's 50, 60, 70 percent lower.
And this is something that Ron and I have been discussing from the time Ron got elected, and I've been wanting to do it. And it takes a long time from a legal standpoint, and we've got it all worked out.
So you're going to be getting mass of drug savings in Florida and other states. And we've had numerous states that wanted to do it. Ron really was at the forefront, I will say that. But you have other states that have caught on. It's caught on very quickly. It didn't take them long to figure that one out, Ron; it's too obvious.
We pay for all of the research and all of the development, and foreign countries pay absolutely nothing, and our consumer gets charged. This has been going on for decades.
The American people pay an average of over three times more for medicine than the Canadians. Many people go to Canada. I see it all the time. They go to Canada to buy drugs, and then they come back — prescription drugs — because they save so much money. The trip is well worth it. The Obama-Biden administration pledged to end this unfairness and allowed drug importation, but they never got it done. They were unable to get it done. They didn't get a lot of things done.
But under my administration, we're standing up to the lobbyists and special interests and fighting back against a rigged system. "Rigged system" — you've heard that word before. I'm unrigging the system that is many decades old. We're doing something that should have been done a long time ago.
The third revolutionary order I'm signing today will prevent middlemen — and women, I guess — but you've heard about the middleman, right? The middleman that makes so much money. Nobody knows who they are. Nobody has any idea who they are. They make more money, perhaps, than even the drug companies themselves. And the drug companies, in all fairness to them — big pharma — and they're doing a great job on the vaccines. They're doing a great job on therapeutics. I can tell you because I deal with them a lot. But I think the middlemen make more money than they do, and they don't do much. Maybe they don't do anything. Some people say they don't do anything. Nobody even knows who they are.
But the middlemen are making a fortune. And pharmacy benefit managers and people are just bilking Medicare patients with these high drug prices while they pocket gigantic discounts. Gigantic discounts.
The amount of money they have made over the decades is too incredible even to speculate or say. It's — it's massive. Some very rich people are not going to like me very much today, I can tell you. (Laughter.) I probably know them very well. I probably see them in Palm Beach. (Laughter.) But nobody ever talks about who they are.
Everyone — I hear "the middlemen" for years. "The middlemen." Right, Alex? And he doesn't know who they are either, but he knows they're rich. And they're not going to be so rich anymore because the money is going down to reduce the price of drugs — prescription drugs.
So that's a big thing. That's a tremendous step. It should have been taken a long time ago. But they have a great deal of power. And I don't have to tell you how many phone calls I've had in the last few days when they heard I was going to be doing this. It's — I've heard from people that I haven't spoken to in a long time.
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