Health and Science

Debate fact check: Firm says Sen. Klobuchar overstates Trump's lack of success lowering drug prices

Key Points
  • Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar claimed in Wednesday's debate that the prices of 2,500 drugs have gone up in double-digits since Trump took office.
  • That number is closer to 1,596, according to an analysis from RX Savings Solutions.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks at the first U.S. 2020 presidential election Democratic candidates debate in Miami, Florida, June 26, 2019.
Mike Segar | Reuters

Sen. Amy Klobuchar lambasted President Donald Trump's record on lowering prescription drug prices during Wednesday' night's Democratic primary debate, but an analysis from RX Savings Solutions shows the presidential candidate overstated Trump's lack of success.

The Minnesota senator slammed Trump for failing to deliver on his promise to lower prescription drug prices, and for permitting what she called "giveaways" to pharmaceutical companies.

"The president literally went on TV, on Fox, and said that people's heads would spin when they see how much he would bring down pharmaceutical prices," Klobuchar said from Miami, Florida. "Instead, 2,500 drugs have gone up in double-digits since he came into office. Instead, he gave $100 billion in giveaways to the pharma companies."

However, the number of drug price increases of 10% or more since Trump entered office is actually closer to 1,596, according to Michael Rea, a clinical pharmacist and founder of Rx Savings Solutions. Rea, analyzing public disclosures of price increases, said that number also includes price increases for the same drug in different doses and package sizes.

Carlie Waibel, a spokesperson for Klobuchar's campaign, pointed CNBC to an Op-Ed from former Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt, who linked to a report from industry group Pharmacy Benefit Consultants on price hike increases.

Spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. increased 0.4% in 2017 to $333.4 billion, according to the latest data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. High prescription drug costs have become a rare bipartisan issue with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding changes. Trump has made lowering prices one of the key issues of his administration as health care remains a top issue for voters in the 2020 elections.

During the debate, Democratic candidates also pledged to make opioid companies criminally liable and clashed over "Medicare for All," which calls for eliminating private health insurance and replacing it with a universal Medicare plan.