- - Wednesday, December 16, 2020

It is great that vaccines for COVID-19 are being produced so fast. The pharmaceutical companies have really stepped up. The vaccines have been produced and tested faster than at any time in history. But we must not forget that Operation Warp Speed, created by President Trump, is really responsible for this being accomplished so rapidly.

What bothers me is Mr. Trump is being criticized for his handling of the pandemic. No president in history moved as rapidly during a pandemic as Mr. Trump has.  

When he decided to help reduce drug prices to what other countries pay for them, he made pharmaceutical companies very, very angry. I believe they were so angry that they deliberately waited until one week after the election to make sure he didn’t get credit for his efforts.   

Because he wanted drug prices lowered to what other countries pay for them, so Americans were treated fairly, the drug companies really went after him during the campaign. They supported his opponent in every way possible. Millions for his opponent’s campaign.

When I chaired the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, we investigated a number of issues regarding the activities of the pharmaceutical companies.  

One of the issues we investigated was why Americans were charged so much more than people in other countries for the very same drug. The pharmaceutical companies, through their lobbying agent, Big Pharma, did everything they could to stop our investigation. They were, I believe, more concerned for their profits than they were for Americans who buy their products.

As chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee I experienced their wrath firsthand.

President Trump, who cared for the American people, vowed to force the issue and make sure Americans paid the same as people in other countries around the world paid for their prescriptions.  

The pharmaceutical companies, in my opinion, decided to do everything they could to make sure there would not be four more years of Mr. Trump.

When Mr. Trump formed Operation Warp Speed, the pharmaceutical companies wanted to make sure that if a vaccine was developed before the election that he would not get any credit for it. I’m sure they knew weeks before the election they had a vaccine, but they held off an announcement until a week after the election.

The president made sure that the pharmaceutical companies had billions of dollars through Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine faster than at any time in history, but that didn’t change their determination to make sure he wasn’t elected. They wanted to “get even,” so to speak, for his efforts to reduce drug prices for Americans. (After all, why should Americans pay 5, 10, 20 times or more for the same drug that it sold for in other parts of the world?)

As one who has experienced the wrath of Big Pharma, I am confident this is what they did collectively. 

Mr. Trump really tried to help Americans by lowering drug prices, but the pharmaceutical companies’ bottom line, their profits, are more important to them. So they waited until one week after the election to announce the vaccines.

President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed is a big success, but Big Pharma made sure he didn’t get credit for it. “What a shame.” He’s been blamed for how the pandemic has been handled, but in fact what he did saved many lives and is a great success.

• Dan Burton is a former Republican U.S. representative from Indiana.

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