By Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans support it. Virtually all other developed countries already do it. And the two leading presidential candidates: the government should lower drug prices.
But experts say the chances for government action in the near-term are close to nil. The reasons are familiar: political gridlock in Washington, pharmaceutical industry influence and the structure of the U.S. health system itself, which limits government intervention.
“There’s not much they can do, that’s the sad truth,” says Ira Loss, of Washington Analysis. “They can’t do much so they’re not gonna do much.”
Looking ahead, a Democratic president with majorities in the House and Senate might be able to pass major pricing reforms. But even if Democrats retake the Senate this year, Loss and others don’t expect Democrats to regain the House.
For now, business in Congress has essentially ground to a halt, as both parties look to the November elections to expand their power. But with a majority of Americans favoring government action on drug pricing, proposals continue to swirl around Washington.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, recently questioned the Obama administration’s top health official about rumors that the president might use an executive order to allow the government to negotiate for lower drug prices. The White House declined to comment on the idea, but most experts agree the president has no authority to make such a change on his own.
Larger changes would require action by Congress, where pharmaceutical companies and related businesses spent…