Cummings Issues New Staff Report on Skyrocketing Drug Prices During Trump’s First Year as President

May 11, 2018
Press Release

Cummings Issues New Staff Report on

Skyrocketing Drug Prices During

Trump’s First Year as President


President’s Speech Today Reportedly Abandons Campaign Promise to

Authorize Medicare to Negotiate Directly with Drug Companies


Washington, D.C. (May 11, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a new staff report documenting huge price increases imposed by drug companies during Donald Trump’s first year as President.  Cummings also issued the following statement in response to news that the President is preparing to abandon the proposal he supported during the campaign to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower prices for beneficiaries:

“I think very expensive champagne will be popping in drug company boardrooms across the country tonight.  The President spent last year pressing Congress to pass a massive tax cut—which gives away billions of dollars to drug companies and their executives who are already rich—but this year the President is apparently abandoning his campaign promise to authorize Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower prices.” 

The report released today by Cummings, Skyrocketing Drug Prices:  Year One of the Trump Administration, explains that, as a candidate and as President, “one of the few concrete proposals to lower drug prices that Donald Trump has claimed to support is authorizing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies.”  As a candidate in January 2016, he said the government could save hundreds of billions of dollars every year if Medicare negotiated directly with drug manufacturers.  He said:  “We don’t do it.  Why?  Because of the drug companies.”  In January 2017, he stated that the pharmaceutical industry is “getting away with murder.”  He also said that “Pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power, and there’s very little bidding on drugs.”

The report also explains:  “Instead of using his first year in office to advance his Medicare proposal, President Trump spent the majority of 2017 pressing Congress to enact one of the largest tax cuts in history, including for drug companies and their wealthy executives, despite the fact that the drug industry is already one of the most profitable in the world.  He repeatedly lobbied individual Senators and Representatives, made numerous public statements, and used all the tools of his powerful position to demand that Congress pass his legislation.”

The report continues:  “Today, President Trump is expected to announce his proposals to address prescription drug costs, but press accounts citing his top aides indicate that he will abandon the Medicare negotiation proposal, offering instead only relatively modest administrative steps.  There is little, if any, evidence that President Trump will endorse legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate—which he claimed he supports—let alone bring the full weight of his office to bear as he did with his tax cuts.”

The report examines price increases during the Trump Administration in three key ways based on prescription drug price data from December 31, 2016, to March 1, 2018:

  • Prices increased for the best-selling drugs in America:  The data indicate that 16 of the top 20 best-selling drugs in the United States increased significantly in price in the first year of the Trump Administration, mostly by double digits.  Collectively, these 16 drugs generated approximately $81.8 billion in sales in 2017.

  • Prices increased for drugs that cost most for Medicare:  The data indicate that 12 of the top 20 most costly drugs for Medicare Part D increased in price in the first year of the Trump Administration.  Collectively, these 12 drugs cost Medicare about $20.4 billion in 2015, the most recent year in which Part D spending data is available.

  • Prices increased for the biggest U.S. drug companies:  The data indicate that the three largest U.S.-based drug companies—Pfizer, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson— increased the prices of eight of their nine best-selling drugs in the first year of the Trump Administration, and they increased the prices of seven of these drugs by double digits.

On March 8, 2017, Cummings and Rep. Peter Welch met with President Trump to present him with a draft of H.R. 4138, The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act.  This legislation would do precisely what President Trump said he wanted during the campaign—authorize the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.  This proposal is supported by 92% of the American people.

The Members asked for President Trump’s endorsement of their bill, as well as his support with Congress in moving this legislation forward.  Hearing nothing, they sent three additional letters to the President following-up on their request over the course of 2017.  He never once responded.



115th Congress