Pharma CEOs to meet Trump today

Pharma CEOs including Novartis’ Joe Jimenez are to meet Donald Trump this afternoon – following a turbulent start to his presidency and his attacks on the industry over pricing.

Trump has said pharma companies are “getting away with murder” on pricing, so it seems highly likely that this issue will be a major part of today’s discussions.

According to reports, Steve Ubl, CEO of the US industry body the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) will be attending the meeting.

Reuters reported that Novartis’ Jimenez will also attend the previously unannounced meeting, which was revealed in Trump’s schedule for the day.

Trump has met with a group of CEOs shortly after his inauguration, including Johnson & Johnson’s Alex Gorsky, during a meeting where the president announced a set of protectionist tax measures aimed at preventing US firms from relocating abroad.

Speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum earlier in January, Jimenez urged Trump to lower taxes to stimulate the US economy, rather than tackling high prices.

Since then Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, has said that Trump still plans to follow through with his promise to take on high drug prices.

But Trump’s ban on people from a list of mainly Muslim countries visiting America that has caused the most controversy this week, with millions signing a UK petition calling for a state visit from the new president to be axed.

Most pharma companies have stayed out of this debate, but the CEOs could use the meeting to raise concerns about the policy likely to affect their operations in those countries.

Allergan’s CEO, Brent Saunders, has tweeted his opposition to the move:

Regeneron has said in an internal memo that it is ready to support employees affected, and Vertex has also issued a statement opposing the ban.

There are also concerns over a “one in, two out” order signed by Trump, requiring all government agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one introduced.


The order is likely to affect the running of the US Food and Drug Administration – and there are already concerns that the ruling could cause chaos at the regulator.

It’s unclear how the order will affect the regulator – but the pharma industry is unlikely to welcome any policy that adds to the uncertainty it already faces.

Another hugely important issue is the proposed ‘repeal and replace’ of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.  Unlike the executive orders so far issued by the new president, a repeal of the health insurance law won’t be introduced overnight.

Republicans in the Senate and House are wary that a botched replacement law could see millions lose their health insurance coverage – something that would in turn hit their chances in mid-term elections in 2018.

The issue is of huge importance to US pharma as well, as a fall in insurance coverage would also hit industry revenues.

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