WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed four executive orders aiming at lowering prices that Americans pay for prescription drugs as he faces an uphill re-election battle and criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

One order would allow for the legal importation of cheaper prescription drugs from countries like Canada, while another would require discounts from drug companies now captured by middlemen to be passed on to patients, Trump said.

Another measure seeks to lower insulin costs while a fourth, which might not need to be implemented if talks with drug companies are successful, would require Medicare to purchase drugs at the same price that other countries pay, Trump said.

Executives of top drug companies have requested a meeting to discuss how they can lower drug prices, the president added.

“We are putting patients over lobbyists, senior citizens before special interests, and we’re putting America first,” Trump said before signing the documents.

U.S. President Donald Trump signs executive orders on lowering drug prices as two guests celebrate behind him in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Trump, under fire for surging coronavirus cases in the United States and beset by decreasing poll numbers ahead of Nov. 3 elections, had previously asked Congress to rein in drug costs.

On Friday, he also said that the White House would propose a healthcare bill soon but offered few details.

Drugmakers often negotiate rebates or discounts on their list prices in exchange for favorable treatment from insurers and other healthcare payers. As a result, insurers and covered patients rarely pay the full list price of a drug.


Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jonathan Oatis

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