POLITICO's Pulse Check

Trump's drug plan, explained

Episode Summary

POLITICO reporters discuss Trump' long-awaited drug plan, and a key Obama appointee shares lessons from the last administration's largely failed fight to lower drug prices.

Episode Notes

President Donald Trump finally unveiled his plan to lower drug prices last week, and on this week’s episode, POLITICO looks closer at what’s in the strategy and how it builds (or doesn’t) on the Obama administration’s own efforts.

First, POLITICO’s Sarah Karlin-Smith discusses her reporting on the Trump administration’s drug plan (starts at the 2:05 mark), what’s in the bill and how it’s being received.

Then after the break, Tim Gronniger — who served as CMS Chief of Staff and led the agency’s work on drug spending under the Obama administration — discusses his impression of the Trump plan (starts at the 14:05 mark), and what he learned from Obama-era efforts to try and lower drug prices, which met with significant resistance and were largely stalled.

Stick around for a new segment — “Steal My Job” (starts at the 37:00 mark) — where Tim discusses how he got his jobs in the Obama administration and tips for people interested in a similar career path.


Average sales price (ASP): A manufacturer's sales of a drug divided by the total number of units, which is used to help set government reimbursement.

Biosimilars: A type of product that’s highly similar to existing FDA-approved biologic drugs (like Remicade) but intended to offer a lower-cost alternative.

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs): A third-party manager of a prescription drug program that helps insurers and others negotiate on drug prices. Drug companies say that PBMs are middlemen that drive up prices.


Adam Cancryn and David Pittman’s story on the Trump drug plan: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/11/trump-administration-drug-price-plan-535667

Sarah’s piece on Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda for drug pricing: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/09/trump-drug-pricing-prescriptions-514925