Donald Trump briefly touched on the pharmaceutical industry in his first major press conference since being elected president.
In the news conference yesterday at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Trump talked about drug companies relocating overseas and referred to the rising cost of pharmaceuticals.
“We’ve got to get our drug industry back,” Trump said after discussing his efforts to get auto makers to keep their production facilities in the U.S. “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.”
Trump also pointed to issues with drug pricing. “The other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they’re getting away with murder,” he said.
“Pharma has a lot of lobbies and 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,” Trump said, “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.”
The National Community Pharmacists Association said Thursday that Trump’s comments at the press conference reinforced some of the views that the association expressed in a Jan. 9 letter to the president-elect concerning the role of PBMs in rising prescription drug prices.
“You recently told Time magazine, ‘I’m going to bring down drug prices. I don’t like what has happened with drug prices.’ I write with interest about that statement and to offer my organization’s help as your incoming administration works to address this issue,” NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey wrote in the letter to Trump.
“When scrutinizing escalating drug prices, it is important to look beyond the manufacturer — to certain ‘middlemen’ in the drug supply chain. … So where is the money going? Pharmacy benefit managers (or PBMs) are the ones to ask,” Hoey explained. “Little-known PBMs have grown over the past few decades from prescription processing companies into enormous corporations that hold the key to rising prescription drug costs and operate in a virtual black box. Three large PBMs now control nearly 80% of the market.”
He added, “We recommend your administration closely scrutinize PBM corporations and demand much greater transparency from these entities. Cleaning up the role of PBMs is instrumental to addressing prescription drug prices.”