Trump's touting a drug pricing meeting with execs, but PhRMA's 'not aware' of it

President Donald Trump gives a speech on HRAs
President Donald Trump said there's a meeting with drug companies set this week, but PhRMA said it wasn't aware of the meeting. (White House)

With two months until the election, President Donald Trump has made numerous pledges about drug pricing over the past few weeks. But his latest claim of a meeting set between the White House and drug executives earned a quick denial from the leading pharmaceutical industry lobbying group. 

As he was departing for Wisconsin on Tuesday, Trump said he was meeting with drug companies this week to discuss drug prices. A spokeswoman for the industry’s trade group PhRMA said the group is “not aware of any meeting.” 

It’s the latest in a back and forth between Trump and the drug industry after he unveiled executive orders in July centered on creating discounts for insulin and epinephrine, eliminating rebates, allowing importation and creating an index linking U.S. prices to those elsewhere. 

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At that point, Trump said a meeting would follow, but the confab never appeared to come together. On a conference call at the time, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he didn’t “think there is a need, right now, for White House meetings.”  Trump's international pricing order attracted the most pushback from the drug industry, with CEOs saying the proposal ignores differences between healthcare systems. Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks called it “horrible policy.” 

The White House has yet to release the text of the executive order, and experts say it’ll take months to implement due to the rulemaking process.  

RELATED: Upset with Trump's international pricing index, PhRMA submits a counteroffer: Politico 

Meanwhile, Trump also gave the drug industry until August 24 to submit a counterproposal. PhRMA sent in its counteroffer, Politico reported, which included discounts for physician-administered drugs in Medicare Part B and a cost-sharing cap for patients in Medicare Part D’s catastrophic coverage phase. 

In reviewing the counteroffer, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote Monday that it’s “not clear those are concessions.” The proposals are voluntary for pharma companies, he pointed out. But the proposal does offer Trump the “opportunity to declare victory ahead of the elections,” Gal wrote, and it appears the White House is considering the counteroffer.

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