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Trump meets with top pharma execs, reiterates pledge to lower “astronomical” prices

Published on 31/01/17 at 04:08pm

President Trump convened with a number of top pharma execs at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the key matters of drug pricing and the US regulatory process which has been a hot topic of conversation since even before he took office.

Among the attendees were Stephen Ubl, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Novartis chief executive Joe Jimenez, MSD CEO Ken Frazier, Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks and executive chairman of Celgene Robert Hugin. Novartis’ Jiminez stated in the run up to the meeting: "Obviously, we would love to in the coming months be able to sit down and talk with the administration about how we can be helpful in what is happening in the US around the Affordable Care Act and also show him some of what we have done in terms of outcomes-based pricing and being a leader in that space."

The meeting comes only weeks after Trump called out big pharma on pricing issues, claiming that they had been “getting away with murder”, and threatened to take action on the matter. Trump reiterated this sentiment on Tuesday, calling drug prices “astronomical”, and stating “We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons. We have no choice.”

He added that his administration would be “changing a lot of the rules”, and pledged to bring down the prices of Medicare and Medicaid. In a bid to speed up the approval of new life-saving drugs, he also called for less regulation, continuing to echo the sentiments inherent in his “one in, two out” regulatory executive order announced this week.

“We’re also going to be streamlining the process,” he said, “so that from your standpoint when you have a drug that you can actually get it approved instead of waiting many, many years. We’re going to get the approval process much faster.”

The pharma industry has been consistently struggling with the negative strain of the pricing debate for the better part of a year, bubbling to the surface in the summer of last year with the Mylan EpiPen pricing scandal, and sustained in national conversation throughout the presidential race. Still dragged down by its pricing transgressions, it was announced this week that Mylan is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission for suspicion of blocking generic competition and allegations of price fixing, among other charges, while at the very same time Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have become embroiled in a new lawsuit over alleged pricing collusion.

In an attempt to neutralise public ire, the PhRMA last week launched the multi-million dollar media campaign GOBOLDLY to stress the benefits of biopharmaceutical innovation and developments to win back waning favour.

Trump also stated he wants to see pharma manufacturing relocated to the US on a wider scale. His pick for the FDA head role is due to be announced shortly, he assures.

Matt Fellows


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