Trump meets with pharma execs at White House


WASHINGTON — Executives from several pharmaceutical companies and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America convened at the White House Tuesday for a meeting with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. The president kicked off the meeting by mentioning the price of drugs and the need for competition in the marketplace. 


“You folks have done a terrific job over the years, but we have to get prices down for a lot of reasons. We have no choice,” Trump said. “I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing a product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare. But we can increase competition and bidding wars — we have to, big time — in that program.”


In addition to PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl, Trump met with executives from Novartis, Merck, Worldwide Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson and Amgen. Ubl said the meting was “positive and productive” and said they “discussed many areas of common ground including: advancing stronger trade agreements to level the playing field with countries around the world; reforming our tax code to spur investment and job creation here in the United States; and removing outdated regulations that drive up costs and slow innovation.” He noted that some policies, if enacted, could bring as many as 350,000 new jobs over the next 10 years due to biopharmaceutical industry growth. 


“Our industry takes seriously the concerns raised about the affordability and accessibility of prescription medicines, and we have expressed our commitment to working with the administration to advance market-based reforms,” Ubl said. “The current system needs to evolve to enable the private sector to lead the move to a value-driven health care system. To do this, we need to reform existing laws and regulations that are currently preventing private companies from negotiating better deals and paying for medicines based on the value they provide to patients and our health care system.”


Trump said that his administration is “focused on accelerating FDA approval — we’re going to get the process much faster,” with an emphasis on “streamlining the process so that from your standpoint when you have a drug you can actually get it approved if it works instead of waiting for many, many years.” 


Ubl said, “We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to advance solutions that promote economic growth and job creation and create a more competitive health care marketplace.”


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