Trump calls for lower drug prices, fewer regulations in meeting with pharmaceutical executives

By Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post

January 31, 2017


President Trump met with leaders of some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies Tuesday and emphasized the need to lower “astronomical” drug prices, decrease regulations and bring more drug manufacturing into the United States.

Trump offered no specific policies, but mentioned increasing competition and “bidding wars” as a way to bring down prices. In the past, he has lashed out at the pharmaceutical industry for “getting away with murder” and threatened to use the government’s bargaining power to force down drug prices for programs like Medicare.

Most of Tuesday’s meeting was held behind closed doors, but Trump spoke to the media beforehand while surrounded by executives from a half-dozen large drug companies. He struck a less combative tone and didn’t mention government intervention directly.

“We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons. We have no choice,” Trump said, flanked by chief executives Kenneth Frazier of Merck and Robert Hugin of Celgene. “For Medicare, for Medicaid, we have to get the prices way down.” […]

In the past, pharma companies have railed against government intervention in pricing, saying those prices fund development of future, lifesaving drugs.

There are many empty positions at the FDA, said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research. The recently enacted 21st Century Cures law provided for additional hiring authority.

“But with the hiring freeze, will they be able to hire anyone?” she asked.

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