Welcome to the FiercePharma political roundup, where each Monday we’ll highlight developments in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that could affect drug pricing and how drugmakers operate.
With just two days left until the 2020 election—and with COVID-19 cases surging across the country—President Donald Trump suggested on Sunday that he'd fire the United States’ top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci.
At a Sunday night rally in Opa-Locka, Florida, after the audience began chanting “Fire Fauci," Trump said "don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election."
A “Fire Fauci” chant just erupted at Trump’s rally in Florida— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) November 2, 2020
"Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said in response. pic.twitter.com/oN8X7x1bJc
It’s not the first time firing Fauci has come up among the president’s supporters. Back in April, only about a month into the United States’ outbreak, a Twitter hashtag “#FireFauci” started trending, and the president himself retweeted a call to fire the infectious disease expert, who’s served several U.S. presidents.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has become a trusted voice amid the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of voters think Fauci’s pandemic response has been either “excellent” or “good,” according to a Morning Consult poll last month.
The president’s latest statement came after Fauci had become increasingly critical of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response. During a Washington Post interview Friday, Fauci said the U.S. could “not possibly be positioned more poorly” heading into the fall and winter. He said the country is in for a “whole lot of hurt.”
And even amid the recent surge in cases across the country, Fauci told the Post that the “public health aspect of the task force has diminished greatly,” with the response instead focused on reopening. Fauci has also sparred with White House advisor Scott Atlas, who has questioned mask use and become a favored voice for the president on the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a push in Florida to lower drug prices by allowing importation has suffered an early setback. No private firms bid on the state's $30 million contract, Kaiser Health News reports, dealing the effort a delay of several months and adding another potential stumbling block for similar programs. The state said it’s confident it can find a private partner.