Trump, Pharma Execs Focus on Common Ground in Meeting

President Donald Trump told pharmaceutical executives at a White House meeting Tuesday that drug prices need to be lower, but also vowed significant reforms to how new drugs get approved, acknowledging a common industry concern.

Companies and industry groups also appeared eager to find common ground, with some promising to create more jobs in the United States, another top issue for Trump.

“The U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country but the pricing has been astronomical,” Trump said. “We have to do better accelerating cures.”

The meeting comes after Trump zeroed in on high drug prices on the campaign trail and pushed for Medicare to negotiate prices, a policy that’s long been resisted by pharma companies and most Republicans. Weeks ago, Trump said the pharmaceutical industry was “getting away with murder.”

But in remarks Tuesday, Trump struck a more conciliatory tone, highlighting regulatory changes that he said could help lower prices.

Trump said he wanted to reform how the Food and Drug Administration approves new drug treatments so that new drugs could reach patients more quickly. He also vowed to cut back on regulations that complicate processes for the pharmaceutical industry and called for greater competition.

“I’ll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market,” Trump said. “That includes price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what’s happening. But we can increase competition and bidding wars, big time.”

Trump also said the administration would be working to improve trade deals to maximize U.S. companies’ investments in research and development, which PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl has noted as a key issue.

From the industry’s side, several companies responded to Trump’s call to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. After the meeting, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that Amgen CEO Robert Bradway told Trump the company was adding 1,600 jobs at the company this year. Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks also said the company was hiring for manufacturing jobs “as I speak.”

Ubl said Tuesday’s meeting was positive and productive, and that the discussion touched on reforming the tax code, easing regulations and improving trade deals, as well as creating a more competitive health care marketplace.

“Our industry takes seriously the concerns raised about the affordability and accessibility of prescription medicines, and we have expressed our commitment to working with the administration to advance market-based reforms,” Ubl said in a statement.