President Donald Trump has signed four executive orders aimed at reducing the prices of prescription drugs in the United States.
“The four orders I am signing today will completely restructure the prescription drug market,” said Trump, who has long criticized “astronomical” prices.
The measures would allow discounts and the importation of cheaper drugs from abroad.
Mr Trump will meet with pharmaceutical bosses on Tuesday, but some industry analysts have criticized the move, saying it would not have much effect.
“This administration has decided to pursue a radical and dangerous policy of fixing prices according to the tariffs paid in the countries that it [President Trump] called it socialist, which will hurt patients today and in the future, ”US pharmaceutical research and manufacturers said in a statement.
He said Mr. Trump’s decision was “a reckless distraction that hinders our ability to respond to current [coronavirus] pandemic – and those we may face in the future ”.
President Trump’s administration has been criticized for its response to the worsening Covid-19 crisis, as the number of confirmed deaths linked to the virus in America has now exceeded 145,000.
Since taking office, Mr. Trump has launched repeated attacks on those who set the prices of drugs and pledged to take drastic measures to reduce them.
But months before the presidential election, industry experts have expressed doubts that important decisions could come into effect before the November 3 vote.
They also say the White House has limited power to implement drug pricing policies.
Executive decrees do not have automatic legal force and can also be challenged in court.
According to a 2019 report by the OECD group of industrialized countries, the United States spends about twice the average amount spent by other member countries on pharmaceuticals per capita.
For example, where the UK paid £ 398 ($ 497) per capita in 2015, the US paid $ 1,162.
This despite similar levels of prescription drug use.