Trump calls for lower drug prices, fewer regulations in meeting with pharmaceutical executives

By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Juliet Eilperin and Laurie McGinley

This story has been updated.

President Trump met with leaders of some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies Tuesday morning and emphasized the need to lower “astronomical” drug prices, decrease regulations and bring drug manufacturing back into the United States.

The tone of the public portion of the meeting was positive, especially given that Trump recently lashed out at the pharmaceutical industry for “getting away with murder” on prices — and threatened to use the government’s bargaining power to force down drug prices. On Tuesday, he mentioned increasing competition and “bidding wars” as a way to bring down prices, but it was unclear if he meant the government should negotiate on behalf of Medicare or what specific policy solutions that could entail.

“We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons. We have no choice,” Trump said, flanked by chief executives Kenneth Frazier of Merck and Robert Hugin of Celgene. “For Medicare, for Medicaid, we have to get the prices way down.”

“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market,” Trump said, to an audience of large, established drug companies. “But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.”

Eli Lilly chief executive David Ricks, who attended the meeting, said in an investor call later in the day that Trump “did not get into elaborate policy detail in terms of the U.S. pricing environment.”

“I think we all understand the concern he’s raising” that consumers’ out-of-pocket costs are growing rapidly, Ricks said. He said the pricing discussion focused in part on how drug companies could do a better job of …read more

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