In a meeting with pharmaceutical industry leaders, President Donald Trump decried the high cost of drugs but said his administration would work to make it easier to get new, innovative medications to market.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which along with drug company executives met with Trump at the White House on Tuesday, called the meeting “positive” and said it was on “common ground” with the administration in a number of areas.
“The U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country, but the pricing has been astronomical for our country. New drugs have led to longer, healthier lives. We all know that. But we have to do better. We are focused on accelerating FDA approvals — we’re going to get the approval process much faster,” Trump said.
“One thing that’s always disturbed me is they come up with a new drug for a patient who’s terminal, and the FDA says we can’t have this drug used on the patient. They say we don’t know if the drug works or if it doesn’t work, but we can’t approve the drug because we don’t want to hurt the patient. But the patient is not going to live in four weeks. So we’re going to be changing a lot of the rules,” the president said.
At the meeting with Trump were Vice President Mike Pence and Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Participants from the pharmaceutical sector included executives from Eli Lilly, Merch, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Amgen, Celgene and Stephen Ubl, president and chief executive officer of PhRMA, the industry’s trade group.
“This morning, we had a positive, productive meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden. We talked about how we can work together to improve American competitiveness around the world, create more jobs here at home and enhance the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry that continues to lead the world in the development of lifesaving treatments and cures,” Ubl said in a statement about the meeting.
“We 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around the world, reforming our tax code to spur investment and job creation here in the United States, and removing outdated regulations that drive up costs and slow innovation,” Ubl stated. “We believe if these policies are enacted, it will translate to up to 350,000 new jobs over the next 10 years as a result of growth in the biopharmaceutical industry.”
In his opening remarks, Trump pledged to end “global freeloading” on U.S. drug research and development.
“Foreign price controls reduce the resources of American drug companies to finance drug R&D and innovation. I think you people know that very well. It’s very unfair to this country,” Trump told pharma executives. “Our trade policy will prioritize that foreign countries pay their fair share for U.S.-manufactured drugs so our drug companies have greater resources to facilitate the development of new cures.”
Trump also touched on drug companies moving their headquarters and other operations overseas.
“One thing I really want you to do, and I’ve seen this over the years, is that a lot of the companies have moved out. They don’t make the drugs in our country anymore. A lot of that has to do with regulation, and a lot of that has to do with companies taking advantage of us with money and the money supply and devaluation,” the president said. “You have to get your companies back here; we have to make products back here. We’re going to get rid of a tremendous number of regulations,” he added.
Trump, too, said his administration aims to reduce drug prices and boost competition by increased bidding. “That includes price fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare,” he said.
“So what I want is we have to get lower prices, we have to get even better innovation, and I want you to move your companies back to the United States,” Trump said. “We are going to be lowering taxes big league, and we are going to be getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary.”
Ubl said there was also discussion on how the pharma sector and government can work together on health care reform to increase choices for consumers, spur competition in the health care marketplace and rein in drug costs.
“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. The current system needs to evolve to enable the private sector to lead the move to a value-driven health care system,” Ubl explained. “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.
“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,” he added.
Trump also said changes are in store at the Food and Drug Administration and hinted that a leadership change is in the offing.
“We’re going to be streamlining the FDA. We have a fantastic person that I think I’ll be naming fairly soon,” he said. “We’re going to streamline the FDA, and you’re going to get your products either approved or not approved. But it’s going to be a quick process; it’s not going to take 15 years.”
Video uploaded to YouTube by Planet Trump.