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Trump assails drugmakers for high prices

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday blasted drugmakers and health care “middlemen” for making prescription medicines unaffordable for Americans, but health care stocks rose as his administration avoided aggressive direct measures to cut prices.

Trump made the remarks at the White House Rose Garden in a speech to introduce what he called “the most sweeping action in history” to lower drug prices. The effort comes as a growing number of Americans struggle with the cost of their medications, and cite health care concerns as a top priority for Washington ahead of congressional elections in November.

Trump said his administration would take aim at the “middlemen” in the drug industry who became “very, very rich,” an apparent reference to health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). He also said the pharmaceutical industry is making an “absolute fortune” at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

“Everyone involved in the broken system — the drugmakers, insurance companies, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, and many others — contribute to the problem,” Trump said.

Trump campaigned on lowering prescription drug prices ahead of the 2016 presidential election, even accusing drugmakers of “getting away with murder.” Health care investors had braced for months for more direct attempts to regulate U.S. prices that would cut into industry profits.

But Trump has since abandoned ideas to lower drug costs he supported during the campaign, including allowing the government’s Medicare plan for older Americans to negotiate prices directly with drugmakers, and enabling U.S. consumers to import lower-cost medicines from other countries.

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