Pharma Lobby Disputes Trump’s Claim That Drug Companies Are Negotiating

September 2, 2020by Anna Edney and Justin Sink, Bloomberg News (TNS)
President Donald Trump displays an executive order on lowering drug prices during a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Friday, July 24, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — The pharmaceutical industry’s leading lobby group said Tuesday it did not know of a meeting at the White House to discuss lowering prescription drug prices, after President Donald Trump said executives were coming in this week to negotiate.

“We are not aware of any meeting,” said Nicole Longo, a spokeswoman for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Trump told reporters before departing to Kenosha, Wisconsin, that drug companies were coming in to see him “this week” to broker a deal “substantially” reducing drug prices. White House officials subsequently declined to comment when asked when the meeting is scheduled and who would participate.

“We’re working on drug companies on substantially lowering drug prices,” Trump said. “I’ve put out a favored nations clause, I’ve signed it. That means we get the lowest prices anywhere in the world, and we match whoever gets the lowest and the drug companies are having a real problem with that and they are coming in to see me, and we expect to get a very substantial price reduction of prescription drugs which has never been done before.”

Trump has previously claimed drug executives were ready to negotiate over his “favored nations” executive order, which purports to require drugmakers to sell medicines in the U.S. at prices comparable to those in countries with more stringent price controls.

Trump signed the order in late July, saying he would give drug companies a month to negotiate a less severe deal before it took effect and that he planned to meet with executives the following week.

The order hasn’t been published and no meeting has happened. The industry instead is running an advertising campaign criticizing Trump’s proposal.

The president, though, has repeatedly boasted of the executive order as if it was a done deal, including during remarks to the Republican National Convention last week. The White House has refused to release the actual text of the executive order.

“I did a favored nations clause, meaning we pay the same price as the lowest country that has the best deal, the companies are going crazy, the drug companies,” Trump told convention delegates last Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Drugmakers did provide the White House with a counterproposal to avert the favored nations executive order last week, according to Politico. The plan reportedly would cut prices for a narrow slice of medicines — physician-administered drugs paid for by Medicare Part B — by 10%.

That’s about a third of the cuts that might be realized if prices were fully pegged to international rates.

It is expected that if the administration does push forward on Trump’s executive order it could involve months of rulemaking at various federal agencies.

The order is also expected to be limited in scope, applying only to drugs administered at a doctor’s office, not prescriptions filled at an outside pharmacy by consumers. Still, the effort has unleashed a fierce lobbying effort by the pharmaceutical industry.

Trump has taken notice of the advertisements and now frequently mentions them during campaign events, saying they are evidence that his efforts are impactful. And the president’s campaign has begun airing television ads of its own, labeling Democratic nominee Joe Biden as the drug industry’s preferred candidate.

“When you see a commercial where drug companies are taking commercials against your president, President Trump, that’s me, the only reason they’re fighting me is because I instituted very strong reforms,” Trump told supporters during a North Carolina tele-rally earlier this month.

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©2020 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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