The pharma industry came in for a one-two punch from president-elect Donald Trump today, who used a press conference to promise that the federal government will use its full power to overcome the lobbying influence of the industry and slash drug prices through new bidding procedures.
Here’s the excerpt:
“We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right. They supply our drugs but they don’t make them here, to a large extent. And the other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry. They’re getting away with murder. Pharma has a lot of…lobbyists and a lot of power and there’s very little bidding on drugs.
“We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. We’re going to start bidding. We’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.”
During the election Trump suggested that Medicare could be given the right to negotiate drug prices, a very sensitive issue for pharma, which lobbied Congress to make it impossible for the federal agency to leverage lower prices through negotiations. Drug prices have been largely opaque in the US, and with more than half of the US population taking a prescription drug, rising prices have become a potent political issue.
Many in the drug industry would reply that there is a procedure for Medicare to extract discounts for wholesale prices through benefit managers who can negotiate prices. But others would argue that if Medicare could openly negotiate prices, they could establish a public benchmark for all payers, which would be enormously influential in setting prices for everyone.
During the election Hillary Clinton took the lead in attacking pharma and drug prices, leaving many in the industry hopeful that Trump would be friendlier to biopharma. Trump, though, stuck with a populist theme during the press conference, painting the industry as the villain in this drama. That’s typecasting that the industry desperately wanted to avoid.
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