Pharma Industry Won’t Talk Drug Pricing with Trump

29.07.2020 - The administration of US president Donald Trump canceled a planned meeting with pharmaceutical industry representatives in Washington on Jul. 28 after none said they planned to attend. The meeting had been called to discuss drug prices after the president announced four executive orders on Jul. 24.

The orders, bypassing Congress, focused on discounts Trump has demanded for insulin and epinephrine. These would eliminate rebates, allow drug imports and create an index linking US prices in the regulated health sector to those existing in other countries.

Insulin prices have been skyrocketing for several years, with the administration’s first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, Scott Gottlieb calling for prices to come down. Gottlieb resigned in March 2019, however, without any action being taken.

Trump has given the industry until Aug. 24 to come up with an alternative solution to his proposals. The consensus among observers was that the administration wants to lower patients' out-of-pocket expense as an incentive to re-elect the president in November this year.

Stephen Ubl, CEO of the pharmaceutical industry association PhRMA, called the orders a “reckless distraction that impedes our ability to respond to the current pandemic—and those we could face in the future.” The president’s “attempt to open our country up to socialized healthcare sets America, our economic recovery and scientific progress back at a time when we need them most,“ he added.

Pharma industry analysts were more sanguine about the president’s plans, with most noting that they didn’t appear to be a major threat to the sector’s pricing model from the markets Trump singled out. Moreover, they could not be implemented in the unregulated US drugs market.

The organization Public Citizen said it believes there is "very little chance” of any of the measures being implemented this year." Despite Trump's "bombastic bluster," he has failed to address high drug prices,” said its medicines director, Peter Maybarduk.