Life Science Compliance Update

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January 12, 2017

President-Elect Donald Trump Lambasts Pharmaceutical Industry

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On Wednesday, January 11, 2017, President-Elect Donald Trump held a news conference in New York; a conference that was held out for weeks to be the time when the country could expect learn what he would be doing with his vast real estate and other investment holdings.

Vice President-Elect Mike Pence

Vice President-Elect Mike Pence spoke first, noting that Mr. Trump has “brought together men and women of extraordinary capability at a historic pace in this cabinet.” He continued, noting that “nineteen of the twenty-one cabinet officials have been announced, nine committee hearings already scheduled, seven more soon to go on the books in the next several days…”. He then touched upon the “fake news” versus “real news” controversy the country has been mired in for the past couple weeks, segueing into his introduction of Mr. Trump by saying, “we’ll hear from the president-elect about issues that are of paramount importance to the American people today.”

President Elect Donald Trump

Mr. Trump first touched on the fact that this was his first news conference in awhile, starting what has become his typical modus operandi – complimenting those who help him and make him look good, and slighting those who have perhaps run less-than-positive stories on him.

He then started discussing what he has already accomplished, especially with respect to keeping jobs in America in the automobile industry, mentioning Ford, Fiat Chrysler, and possibly General Motors as companies who have announced keeping jobs in America. After that is where our interest was really piqued: Trump went in on the pharmaceutical industry.  

Pharmaceutical Industry Comments

Quoting Mr. Trump,

We’ve got to get our drug industry back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right. They supply our drugs, but they don’t make them here, to a large extent. And the other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder.

Pharma, pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power and there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.

These comments by Mr. Trump are not exactly new news, as he pledged to overhaul the pharmaceutical industry during his campaign. During the campaign, he expressed his desire to crack down on high drug prices and even endorsed the concept of Medicare negotiating drug prices.  

Reaction to Comments

His remarks today won him an unlikely ally, Bernie Sanders, who said during a Senate floor speech that Trump was “exactly right.” His comments also sounded similar to those made by Hillary Clinton on price gouging during the presidential campaign.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President Stephen Ubl said, "Medicines are purchased in a competitive marketplace where large, sophisticated purchasers aggressively negotiate lower prices." He said the industry is "committed to working with President-elect Trump and Congress to improve American competitiveness and protect American jobs."

News Conference, Continued…

Mr. Trump did continue, speaking about several other hot-button topics, and then took questions, most of which focused on Russia and the possible hacking that occurred. After a brief question and answer session, Mr. Trump turned control of the conference over to Sheri Dillon, who discussed how Mr. Trump plans to handle conflicts of interest. After a brief explanation, Mr. Trump again started taking questions – these more focused on potential conflicts of interest in his cabinet, Obamacare (repeal and replace), the Supreme Court, the wall along the Southern border of the U.S., and even more on Russia.

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