ASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday broadly pledged to encourage more competition to drive down drug prices and vowed to oppose any measure that would make it difficult for smaller drug companies to enter the market.

Trump, speaking from the White House before a meeting with pharmaceutical executives, also said he would streamline and therefore accelerate the drug approval process.

“So when you have a drug, you can actually get it approved instead of waiting for many, many years,” Trump said.


He nonetheless kept the pressure on drug makers, saying that he must bring down prices for Medicare and Medicaid. He said increased “competition and bidding wars” would lower costs for the programs.

“We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons. We have no choice,” Trump said. While the industry has delivered breakthrough cures, he continued, “the pricing has been astronomical.”

His pledges, which will need to be fleshed out, would likely require work from the Food and Drug Administration. Trump also said Tuesday that he would soon appoint a commissioner to lead the agency.

Trump and drug makers have been on a collision course since the campaign. In a press conference earlier this month, the president accused the industry of “getting away with murder” and pledged to change the way the federal government pays for prescription drugs. He has in recent days called congressional Democrats, who are usually more hawkish than Republicans on drug pricing, to discuss the issue, putting drug makers further on edge.

The industry, for its part, has rolled out an advertising campaign backed by tens of millions of dollars to burnish its public image. Industry officials described Tuesday’s meeting with Trump as a chance to get in the door with the new president after his incendiary comments.

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If Trump wanted to take the delegation to task, he’d have plenty of ammunition.

Eli Lilly has raised the price of insulin more than tenfold since 2001 and is now facing a class-action lawsuit and threats of a congressional investigation.

Amgen has repeatedly raised the price of Enbrel, a blockbuster anti-inflammatory treatment that has been on the market for nearly 20 years. The price of J&J’s competing Remicade rose by 63 percent between 2011 and 2016.

Since 2010, Merck has raised its drug prices by more than 9 percent on average, and Novartis has increased the price of the cancer drug Gleevec from $26,400 in 2001 to more than $120,000 this year.

As they introduced themselves at the meeting, the company executives made note of the manufacturing they do in the United States and the jobs they plan to add in the coming months. Steve Ubl, president and CEO of the industry’s main lobbying group, said drug makers looked forward to discussing “reducing regulations and lowering tax rates” with Trump, in order to foster innovation.

Trump, in his opening remarks, also touched on two other issues: pushing companies to do more manufacturing in the United States and particularly focusing on getting drugs more quickly to patients with terminal illnesses. Congressional Republicans have introduced a so-called “right-to-try” bill and many experts in Washington believe Trump’s FDA could go along with such a proposal.

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  • There are many variables that need to be considered for pharma to bring manufacturing back to US. DJT wish is easier said than done. In addition, FDA and pharma will have kill lot of internal kingdoms to accomplish DJT desire.

    Pharma has two components 1) Active Ingredient and 2) their formulations
    Both have to come home.

    Economies of scale will bring better methods but would they exceed regulatory standards. Would relaxing rules lower drug quality?
    Do we have the manpower to build plants that meet the local regulations let’s say in the next five years? That would be asking too much.

    We have to remember pharma have increased their revenues by raising prices and introducing very high priced orphan drugs. Not much has been introduced for the masses (5-10 million patients) that are revolutionary compared to existing drugs.

    Lot of questions that need to be addressed.

    • I would take it a step further by getting rid of the Advisory Panel system. It didn’t exist when I started in 1983; but then again the FDA had strong leaders with the cojones to make approval decisions without the advice and consent of outside panels, which include many members whose field of expertise lies outside the drug undr consideration. Next get rid of the ossified second level of entrenched bureaucracy that rules the roost. Finally I would privatize the efficacy reviews to real experts in the field, leaving FDA to review safety and GMP’s only, ensuring that they will continue to make it out of the building by noon on Fridays.

  • I thank the president for having an interest in the over high price of medications. Working in the field for Part-D and hearing how people can not afford medication is very alarming, greed,greed,greed is the only reason for the high cost, not r&r.

    • Assuming you mean R&D, I can assure you that both greed and R&D contribute to the costs of pharmaceuticals.

  • “Trump also said Tuesday that he would soon appoint a commissioner to lead the agency.”

    I’m sure this will take some time- after all, he has many hopelessly unqualified political donors to choose from.

  • Finally a consensus proposal from President Trump. Central negotiation was a Democratic idea, and I am glad the President shows agreement to do this. He will face resistance from Congress, but he will probably sell it as a political point, and getting backing from those who had opposed those costs(insurers, pharmacies, businesses).

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