President Donald Trump maintained a pledge he kept throughout his election campaign and told big pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday they must make prescription drugs more affordable.
“The U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country but the pricing has been astronomical for our country,” Trump said during a meeting with pharmacy industry leaders yesterday.
Although he specifically pointed out the need to drop Medicare and Medicaid drug prices, Politico reported he also appeared to suggest that Medicare, which is banned from negotiating with drugmakers, hurts competition,
“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for small, younger companies to take the risk of bringing a product to a vibrantly competitive market," Trump said, according to the Politico report. “That includes price fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars big time—we have to—into that program.”
In addition, Trump pledged to decrease Food and Drug Administration regulations to get drugs to the market faster and help bring back manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
Most of the meeting was held behind closed doors, but Trump spoke to the media before the meeting and introduced the executives and representatives from pharmaceutical companies and organizations. Among those in attendance: executives from Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson, Celgene Corp., Eli Lilly & Co., Amgen and Novartis AG, as well as Stephen J. Ubl, president and chief executive officer of the lobbying group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, who described the meeting with Trump as “positive” and “productive.”
In a statement, Ubl said the group discussed the need to advance stronger trade agreements, reform the tax code to spur investment and job creation, and remove outdated regulations that drive up costs and slow innovation. He said that if the policies are enacted, it could result in up to 350,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.
Celgene, Lilly, Merck and Amgen also told Reuters by email that they were encouraged by Trump's focus on innovation, tax reform and the need for a more value-driven healthcare system.