When Pelosi and Trump agree: It's time for reform

How An 'International Price Index' Might Help Reduce Drug Prices.


Drugs (illustrative)
Drugs (illustrative)

In Washington, both Democrats and Republicans have signaled there's potential for a deal when it comes to lowering prescription drug prices.

Now, there's an idea both Congressional Democrats and the White House seem to like: They want to base U.S. prices on something called an international price index.

"The basic idea is to peg what the United States pays for a particular drug to the price paid in some set of other countries," says Rachel Sachs, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis who specializes in drug pricing policy. "There are many different ways to identify other countries, and there are many different ways in which that international reference price could be used to negotiate for a price here."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled her sweeping plan to reduce drug prices Thursday, which included an international price index. There are lots of differences between that plan and the one the White House floated last fall, but the basics — and the appeal of the concept — are the same.