WASHINGTON — In a closed-door meeting Thursday morning, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) warned the trade group for the United States’ largest drug companies that he and his new colleagues are working to address high prescription drug prices — and that the industry should participate in those discussions.
“My view was that there is going to be change with regards to pharmaceutical pricing and that I think they would be wise to try and shape the reforms as opposed to hoping nothing will happen, because I think some change is coming,” Romney told STAT in a brief interview this afternoon, when asked about his message to the board of directors for PhRMA, the trade association that represents companies like Amgen, Gilead, and Eli Lilly.
Romney’s tough talk is the latest sign that Republicans, despite their once friendly relationship with the drug industry, are increasingly pushing for drug pricing reform. His remarks come on the heels of congressional hearings this week where top Republicans, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, threatened to force drug industry CEOs to testify before the committee.
Romney has not yet introduced or co-sponsored drug pricing legislation since he was sworn in as a new senator in January, but he sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over a broad swath of health policy issues.
Romney was scheduled to speak to PhRMA’s board for 30 minutes, STAT reported Wednesday. While members of Congress are often invited to speak at these gatherings, it’s notable that Romney, only a month into his term as senator, is already being courted by the lobbying group.