Trump to Have Face-to-Face Meeting With Novartis AG CEO, Other Pharma Bosses Today

Trump to Have Face-to-Face Meeting With Novartis AG CEO, Other Pharma Bosses Today January 31, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

WASHINGTON – Two weeks after President Donald Trump said the pharmaceutical industry was “getting away with murder,” industry leaders are planning to sit down for a meeting at the White House this morning.

The meeting comes one day after the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) launched its “Go Boldly” advertising campaign highlighting scientific advancements by the pharmaceutical industry. PhRMA, an advocacy and lobbying group, said it will spend “tens of millions” of dollars on the advertising campaign, The Hill reported Monday.

That campaign will likely be among topics discussed by industry leaders and the president. Media reports indicate the chief executives of Merck & Co. and Eli Lilly will be among the pharma reps meeting with President Trump. Also meeting with the White House is PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl and Joe Jimenez, Novartis’ CEO.

During a press conference prior to his inauguration, Trump criticized the U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing drugs overseas, rather than in the United States. During that same press conference was when Trump said the drug companies are “getting away with murder” when it comes to the prices the companies charge for medication. Trump said he plans to change the way the government bids on drugs in order to bring prices down—something he’s said in the past could save up to $300 billion, annually. Trump did not provide details on how he would change the law in order to accomplish this. Current federal law does not allow the government to negotiate with drug companies to bring down the price of drugs for seniors using Medicare.

“Pharma has a lot of lobbies, 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. And we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time,” Trump said during his press conference.

Trump’s comments sent shares of biotech stocks plummeting.

Pricing is one of the issues that Jimenez wants to address with Trump, Reuters reported. Jimenez has said he wants to talk about “outcomes-based pricing models, which would pay for clinical results rather than a flat price per pill,” Reuters said. Additionally, Jimenez told the news service he wants to discuss the president’s plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

"Obviously, we would love to in the coming months be able to sit down and talk with the administration about how we can be helpful in what is happening in the U.S. around the Affordable Care Act and also show him some of what we have done in terms of outcomes-based pricing and being a leader in that space,” Jimenez said last week, according to Reuters.

The pharmaceutical industry has faced criticism over the price of some of its medicines, particularly those companies that dramatically increased prices, such as Turing Pharmaceuticals 5,000 percent increase for Daraprim and Mylan ’s 400 percent increase for the price of the EpiPen Auto Injector. Last month, Brent Saunders, CEO of Allergan, said “a Trump presidency won't magically excuse the industry from scrutiny of its pricing practices.” Saunders cited the EpiPen pricing problems when he made his points. In his December comment, Saunders called Trump a populist president and said he would not hesitate to “jump on the next EpiPen scandal and tweet more than Hillary Clinton tweeted or anyone else…”

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