President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday opened his press conference with an unexpected shot at pharmaceutical companies and their lobbying groups on Capitol Hill, saying, “They’re getting away with murder.”
He also pledged to save “billions” and made some veiled comments about doing more “bidding,” or negotiating, which would presumably lower the cost of what the government pays for pharmaceuticals, and which the lobbying group PhRMA is fiercely opposed to, particularly for Medicare Part D.
"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, according to a transcript of his remarks. Pharmaceutical company stocks fell immediately when the comments were made.
And Trump’s call for more “bidding” puts him squarely on the side of the departing secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, who earlier this week said providing Medicare with the authority to negotiate drug prices is the best way to keep the rising costs under control.
Trump’s position also puts him on the side of House and Senate Democrats, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who filed an amendment as part of the Senate’s budget resolution that would allow government negotiation of drug prices in Medicare Part D, and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), who introduced a similar bill.
PhRMA, meanwhile, on Tuesday announced a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to try to shift the public conversation away from drug pricing and make the public more aware of its member companies’ scientific advances.
PhRMA president and CEO, Stephen Ubl, told Focus in a statement: "Biopharmaceutical companies invest more than $70
billion a year in research and development in the United States – more than any
other industry in America – and are responsible for 4.5 million American jobs.
Breakthrough medicines are revolutionizing how we treat disease, saving patient
lives, reducing health care costs and improving public health. Today, medicines
are purchased in a competitive marketplace where large, sophisticated purchasers
aggressively negotiate lower prices. We look forward to working with the new
administration and Congress to advance proactive, practical solutions to
improve the marketplace and make it more responsive to the needs of patients."
Brent Saunders, CEO of Allergan, who set a trend late last year by pledging to hike drug prices by less than 10%, tweeted Wednesday: "Ultimately, we want same thing as PEOTUS 1) supportive enviro 4 innovation 2) pt access & affordability of Rx 3) smart people w good US jobs."