In a breathless quest to turn campaign promises into action, President Donald Trump met with the fat cats from Big Pharma earlier this week. An industry riddled with regulation and astronomical prices, pharmaceutical companies are on the hot seat for charging Americans too much for their products as well as using overseas manufacturing plants to make them.
In sum, President Trump wants two changes within the industry: lower prices and drugs manufactured here in the good old U.S.A. This will prove to be a heavy lift as many changes will need to be effected in the drug manufacturing pipeline for these goals to come to fruition.
Attending the conference with the President were, “…executives from “Merck & Co Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Celgene Corp, Eli Lilly & Co, Amgen Inc. and Switzerland’s Novartis AG,” according to Reuters. These drug makers have been riding a stock market roller coaster since Trump was elected and appear eager to stabilize their industry.
Unfortunately for the American consumer, drug prices have traveled to the moon and back in recent years with the government, through its Medicaid and Medicare programs, forking over tons of cash to pharmaceutical companies as their largest customer. This means the President comes to the table with a bargaining chip.
Meanwhile, drug manufacturers gripe that over regulation, the high cost associated with FDA approval and taxes are to blame.
Recently, a friend told me she had gone off the grid and chose to self-pay for one of her prescriptions because the mail order pharmacy was taking too long – that is until she spoke to the pharmacist. Apparently a one month supply of whatever it cost $895 in cold, hard cash.
It’s easy to see where the President is going with this.
The drug price dilemma is a complex one involving world markets as well as recent state laws here in the U.S. that push for drug transparency. You can imagine Big Pharma & Company isn’t too happy to comply with such legislation. So there is room to negotiate on both sides. One piece of the puzzle is what the President calls worldwide freeloading, as Reuters reported:
Trump also said currency devaluation by other countries had increased drugmakers’ outsourcing their production, and he called on the companies to make more of their products in the United States.
Foreign countries must pay a fair share for drug development costs, he added. “We’re going to end global freeloading.”
The United States typically pays more for drugs than any other developed nation. Most Western European countries, as well as Japan, have government-run health care coverage under which drug prices are negotiated.
That has not happened here with Obamacare. And now with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act [sic], it’s likely only to get worse. About the only thing that is certain in this drug quagmire is that things cannot — and with Trump, likely will not — stay the same.
And that’s a good thing for those Americans who have a prescription or two in their medicine cabinet.