“I’m going to bring down drug prices” – Trump

Donald Trump has perhaps unsurprisingly been chosen as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” – and immediately took the opportunity to take a swipe at the pharmaceutical industry and the high price of prescription drugs.

The magazine marked its decision with an interview with Trump, who took the opportunity to reiterate several of the more controversial policy ideas that took him to victory in the presidential elections last month.

The magazine nominates the person or idea it considers has influenced events of the year the most – for better or for worse.

Previous holders include Franklin D Roosevelt, Wallis Simpson, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, presidents George Bush senior and junior, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama.

But those in pharma who thought that Trump’s election was a let-off, after Hillary Clinton’s sharp criticism of drug pricing, may now be concerned.

In the interview, Trump said:  “I’m going to bring down drug prices. I don’t like what’s happened with drug prices.”

Just one sentence, with no other details, was enough to send the NASDAQ biotech index down almost 3.7%, and set off an immediate reaction on twitter.



As usual, Trump, who beat scientists working on CRISPR gene editing to win the award, left the internet speculating about what his next move will be.

In the build-up to the presidential elections, Trump said he planned to let Medicare negotiate lower prices with pharma companies – something that is currently prevented from doing by law.

Trump published a health policy document that made little reference to drug prices – save that Trump favoured allowing greater access to cheaper alternative drugs from abroad to save costs.

Allergan’s CEO, Brent Saunders, noted that his company has earlier this year promised to keep price rises on branded medicines at a reasonable level as part of a “social contract” with patients.

Novo Nordisk pre-empted Trump’s announcement by also promising to limit price increases on its medicines to single-digit percentages annually.

But Trump’s latest remarks have only added to the uncertainty as to which of his many policy proposals will be pursued after he is sworn in on Friday 20 January 2017.

As Senator Bernie Sanders’ response indicates, Trump is ironically likely to have the support of Democrats in both houses, but could face opposition from Republicans if he seeks to pass new legislation targeting drug prices.

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