Trump vows to ease rules for drug makers, but again zeros in on prices

By Katie Thomas. The New York Times

January 31, 2017


President Trump promised some of the nation’s top drug company executives in a meeting at the White House on Tuesday that he would slash regulations at the Food and Drug Administration and make it easier for them to manufacture products in the United States.

He also described as “fantastic” the person he planned to nominate for commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, someone he said would streamline the agency and get drug approval decisions faster.

“You can’t get approval for the plant, and you can’t get approval for the drug; other than that, you’re doing fantastic,” Mr. Trump said at the meeting, to laughter from top executives of companies like Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Novartis.

But even as he struck a cordial tone with them, he said that lowering drug costs would remain a focus and that he would discuss the issue further during the nonpublic portion of the meeting, away from the news media. “The U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country, but the pricing has been astronomical,” Mr. Trump said. “We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons.” […]

“Streamlining drug approvals sounds good, but the agency has already weakened approval standards and patients are paying the price — hugely expensive drugs that don’t even work,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, a Washington research group that advocates strong safety and efficacy standards. She  recently studied expensive new cancer drugs and found that many did not help patients feel better or live longer.

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