President Trump has made it clear that he thinks drug prices are too high and that the pharmaceutical industry, as he put it at a news conference this month, is “getting away with murder.”
He joins a host of lawmakers and others who have excoriated drug makers in recent years for high-priced drugs that are out of the reach of many Americans. On Monday, Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s press secretary, reaffirmed that the issue would be a priority.
One of Mr. Trump’s proposals — to force drug makers to bid for the right to sell their products to Medicare beneficiaries — has repeatedly failed to attract enough support in Congress, especially among his fellow Republicans.
“Pharma has a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power, and there is very little bidding,” Mr. Trump said at the news conference this month, in comments that briefly sent pharmaceutical stocks tumbling. “We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly, and we’re going to save billions of dollars.”
Polls show that the public is in favor of doing away with a legislative provision that prohibits the federal government from negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies for drugs that are paid for by Medicare, the government health care program for people who are over 65 or have disabilities.
Removing that prohibition is a favorite cause of liberal politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, but it has been opposed by the pharmaceutical industry and Republicans, including Representative Tom Price of Georgia, the nominee for secretary of health and human services.
Mr. Price declined to say at a confirmation hearing last Wednesday whether he supported Mr. Trump’s position, and Democratic senators are likely to question him again on the issue when he appears before the Senate Finance Committee for another hearing on Tuesday.