President Trump announced two final rules to lower drug prices on Friday and renewed his complaint that drug manufacturers delayed the news of promising COVID-19 vaccines until after the election to hurt his reelection prospects.
In his first public appearance in a week, the president used the event at the White House to declare yet again that he won the election against presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden. And he again accused drug companies such as Pfizer of delaying announcements of COVID-19 vaccines deliberately as retaliation against his plans to reduce drug prices.
“Big Pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign, which I won, by the way,” Mr. Trump said. “I was put here to do a job.”
He said Pfizer and others “decided to not assess the results of the vaccine until after the election.”
“They decided to delay it because of what I’m doing [on drug prices],” the president said. “It probably would have had an impact [on the election outcome]. These corrupt games will not deter us from doing what is right for the American people.”
The new pricing structures will take place on Jan. 1. The pharmaceutical industry is expected to challenge the administration’s moves in court.
“I presume they’ll sue. They should never ever be able to win.”
The final rules announced by Mr. Trump are aimed at preventing middlemen from curbing Medicare rebates, and linking the prices of certain prescription drugs in the U.S. to the prices of the same drugs in “most-favored nations.” The president called the actions “two groundbreaking rules to very dramatically lower the price of prescription drugs.”
Mr. Trump also seemed to acknowledge that Mr. Biden will be dealing with the issue in January.
“The drug companies don’t like me too much, but we had to do it,” he said. “I hope they have the courage to keep it. The powerful drug lobby … is putting pressure on people like you wouldn’t believe.”
The pharmaceutical industry criticized the president’s action, saying it will discourage the kind of research and development that produced promising COVID vaccines quickly.
“This progress is possible largely because of America’s global leadership in biopharmaceutical R&D,” said Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of PhRMA. “Despite this, the administration is willing to upend the entire system with a reckless attack on the companies working around the clock to end this pandemic. PhRMA is considering all options to stop this unlawful onslaught on medical progress and maintain our ability to win the fight against COVID-19.”
He said the administration’s move on “most-favored nation” status “defies logic,” saying it “gives foreign governments the upper hand in deciding the value of medicines in the United States.”
“History proves that when governments take unilateral action to set prices, it disrupts patient access to treatments, discourages investment in new medicines and threatens jobs and economic growth,” Mr. Ubl said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called it “an extremely exciting day for American health care.” He noted that Pfizer also filed an application with FDA on Friday for its COVID vaccine that’s about 95% effective.
“We’re ending a broken system of shadowy kickbacks that drove prices higher and higher every single year and left so many patients shocked at the out-of-pocket costs that they owe at the pharmacy,” Mr. Azar said. “We’re replacing that system with up-front discounts in Medicare, delivered straight to the patient at the pharmacy counter.”
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