In his first press conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump sprung an unexpected threat against pharmaceutical firms: Lower your drug prices, or else. The announcement sent the stock price of several drug companies plummeting.
"I think a lot of industries are going to be coming back [to the U.S.]," Trump began at the Jan. 11 press conference, reports New York magazine. "We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right. They supply our drugs, but they don’t make them here. To a large extent. And the other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry because they’re getting away with murder."
“It’s a policy we ought to consider,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, said of Trump's bidding proposal, according to Bloomberg. “But as you know, Republicans have not been open to that consideration.”
Even Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont supported Trump's excoriation of the pharmaceutical industry, tweeting, "Trump is right: pharma is 'getting away with murder,'" on Jan. 11.
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Sanders' Twitter statement continued:
But do Trump and Republicans have the guts to police drug companies and lower prices? They must allow Americans to buy safe medication abroad, which is sold at substantially lower cost, and enable Medicare to negotiate prices. The epidemic of price gouging in the drug industry is an obscenity! The cost of prescriptions has become its own health hazard. 35 million Americans -- one in five -- can’t afford their prescriptions. That should outrage every member of Congress. Americans should not pay the highest drug prices in the world simply because Congress is bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. We're the only major country not to guarantee health care as a right. Why are we debating whether to take it away from 30 million people?
"Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power," Trump added at the press conference. "And there’s very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. And were going to start bidding and were going to save billions of dollars over a period of time."
With the repeal and replacement of the landmark Affordable Care Act, a Republican plan to take on high drug prices is yet to be seen.