Politics, Pricing

Donald Trump promises (again) to slash drug prices substantially; ‘and it’s going to be beautiful’

Near the beginning of President Donald Trump’s administration, the chief executive of the country made waves in biopharma with his repeated insistence that he would roll out new initiatives that would slash the price of drugs.

Nothing much came out of that, except for the FDA’s move to ramp up approvals for new generics, which has no impact on the price of branded drugs still equipped with patent protection, which draw the most heat from reform advocates.

But today, in a fiery speech that included a call for the death penalty for certain drug dealers implicated in the opioid epidemic, Trump was back at it, promising to unveil a concerted campaign that would roll back drug prices in a matter of weeks.

“You’ll be seeing drug prices falling very substantially in the not too distant future,” the president told a crowd of supporters in the bellwether state of New Hampshire, “and it’s going to be beautiful.”

“You’ve done a lot already to tackle this issue of drug pricing,” complimented Trump’s new health secretary Alex Azar. “Last year the FDA approved more generic drugs than it ever has in its history — bringing prices down for everyone.”

“(W)e’re going to be rolling out as you mentioned in about a month a whole slate of other proposals around how we decrease the price of drugs and how we bring discounts that the middlemen right now are getting; how those will go to our patients — to individuals,” he added.

Trump also was quick with a compliment, saying that Azar “ran an incredibly successful drug company. Who knows better than the guy running the drug company? Eli Lilly.”

“The most respected man in that industry and we got him to work because he loves this country.”

Azar was actually squeezed out of Lilly, where he was president of the US division, about a year before Trump appointed him to HHS. Now we’ll have to wait a few weeks to see whether the man who once defended drug pricing strategies as a necessary part of backing innovation can offer a coherent plan to significantly reduce drug prices for everyone.

Image: Alex Azar with President Trump C-SPAN

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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