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Trump declares cutting drug prices is a top priority, wants to allow patients quick access to experimental treatments

  • President Trump said cutting prescription drug prices is a top priority for his administration.
  • Trump also wants Congress to pass a "Right to Try" bill that will let terminally ill patients access experimental treatments.
  • Trump's new health-care secretary, Alex Azar, is a former drug company executive who oversaw price hikes.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that cutting drug prices is one of the "greatest priorities" for his administration.

Trump also called on Congress to pass "Right to Try" legislation to allow terminally ill people to use medication that has not yet received final approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

"Prices will come down," Trump promised in his State of the Union address.

"To speed access to breakthrough cures and affordable generic drugs, last year the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history," Trump said.

"We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives," the president said.

"People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the 'right to try.'"

Trump also said: "One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States."

"And it is very, very unfair," he said. "That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down."

In the audience for the speech was former drug company executive Alex Azar, who on Monday was sworn in as Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services. When introducing Azar at that ceremony, Trump several times mentioned his desire that prescription drug prices be reduced.

However, Trump's critics have scoffed at the idea of a former drug company executive leading the charge to cut medication costs.