Politics

White House Considering Bipartisan Drug Price Task Force 

Announcement could come as early as next week as part of an executive action on opioids 

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ranking member, and Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., greet witnesses during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "The Cost of Prescription Drugs: How the Drug Delivery System Affects What Patients Pay, Part II," on October 17, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump is considering launching a bipartisan task force to investigate the rising cost of prescription drugs, sources with knowledge of the discussion say.

The announcement could come as early as next week, but the sources caution that discussions remain in the early stages and are still fluid. They say it could be part of an expected announcement on the opioid crisis that Trump hinted at earlier this week.  

“We are going to be doing that next week,” Trump said of his decision to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. “That is a very, very big statement. It’s a very important step. And to get to that step, a lot of work has to be done and it’s time-consuming work.”

Trump promised to make such a declaration several months ago, but the administration has yet to take any official steps.

The White House declined to comment.

Trump has long chastised the drug industry and the skyrocketing cost of treatments, commonly referring to pharmaceutical companies as “getting away with murder.” 

The White House earlier this year considered an executive order targeting drug prices and even circulated draft proposals, some of which included long-sought provisions by the pharmaceutical industry, sources said.

That order was put on hold as to not interfere with the ongoing Republican attempt to repeal the 2010 health law, according to individuals with knowledge of the discussions.   

Should Trump choose to launch a task force on the issue, it would likely receive bipartisan praise. Both Democrats and Republicans have assailed the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has held a series of hearings on the issue.

The likelihood of any bills addressing the price of medical treatments is advancing is unlikely this year given an already packed legislative calendar, but it remains a top issue for lawmakers. 

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