- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

President Trump’s effort to strike a deal with pharmaceutical companies got off to a rocky start Tuesday amid a dispute over the White House’s push to align the price for certain Medicare drugs with what other nations pay.

Mr. Trump said he planned to sit down with pharma bigwigs at the White House and negotiate ways to slash drug prices. He wanted to give the companies until Aug. 24 to come up with a better plan than his desire to put Medicare Part B drugs on par with prices in Germany, Japan, Canada and the like.

“The drug company executives will be at the White House on Tuesday, and they have some ideas how to significantly reduce drug prices,” he said during a ceremony on drug-pricing orders on Friday.

But the meeting isn’t happening.

A White House official said it had been “more than accommodating” in trying to schedule the meeting.

Yet drug companies and their top lobbies are fuming over the president’s new orders, saying they amount to price-fixing and a distraction amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A Politico report said several companies thought the “favored-nations” order had been dropped, and there was widespread confusion ahead of Mr. Trump’s announcement on Friday, so they withdrew from the sit-down.

A key lobby, PhRMA, said it learned the meeting was off from the news.

“The president mentioned during his remarks that he asked CEOs to attend a meeting at the White House. We learned through media reports that the meeting had been canceled,” said spokeswoman Nicole Longo. “We remain willing to speak with the administration and discuss ways to lower costs for patients at the pharmacy counter. However, we remain steadfastly opposed to policies that would allow foreign governments to set prices for medicines in the United States.”

Mr. Trump took aim at Big Pharma in a series of tweets early Tuesday. He said they’re starting to squirm because he’s taking a tough line.

“Big Pharma is taking television ads trying to make the case that I am raising prescription drug prices on seniors. The ad is a lie! What I have done will lead to a 50% REDUCTION in prices, at least, & Big Pharma is not happy about it,” he said in a pair of posts. “No other President would be able to produce what I have. So when you see those nasty ads from Big Pharma remember, the only reason they are going all out is the massive PRICE REDUCTIONS you are getting — not good for them. Plus, I was only President in 51 years that got a Prescription D reduction!”

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