- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2018

President Trump on Thursday said his changes to drug pricing are making Big Pharma unhappy but he’s not going to back down against the powerful lobby.

“I don’t need their money,” Mr. Trump said of rich industry players during a White House meeting with Health Secretary Alex Azar and the rest of his Cabinet. “They don’t like me too much right now.”

Mr. Trump released a blueprint in May that tries to seek to slash runaway prescription prices by giving private plans in Medicare new power to negotiate, forcing drug companies to disclose their prices in TV ads and ordering middlemen to settle on fixed rebates from drug makers, so they’re not incentivized to nudge list prices higher.

Mr. Azar said the changes amount to a “structural rebuilding” of the pricing system, and that Mr. Trump is “adamant about bringing drug prices down.”

The president on Thursday said he wasn’t happy when Novartis and other big companies announced price hikes earlier this year, so he singled them out personally.

“We made some phone calls and they brought it down,” Mr. Trump said.

The president argued that Democrats were secretly thrilled with the companies’ decision to suspend price hikes, but refused to praise him.

Democrats and other critics say the White House shouldn’t take credit for suspending high drug prices in place.

They want the administration to take bolder steps, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate down prices directly.

Mr. Trump touted that idea on the campaign trail, but his administration has ignored it, with Mr. Azar arguing it could lead to rationing of drugs that seniors need.

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