Pharma condemns pro-Trump 'thugs' and riots—and backs manufacturing group's call for consequences

Pharma executives and trade groups joined the chorus of voices condemning the pro-Trump insurrection on Capitol Hill yesterday. Speaking up on social media and issuing statements against the mob chaos—as Congress worked to certify President-elect Joseph Biden's election—industry reps went so far as to support a call to consider removing President Donald Trump from office.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)—which counts reps from Pfizer, Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Mallinckrodt among its executive committee members—called for consideration of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. It condemned the attacks as sedition and placed the blame squarely at his feet.

“Throughout this whole disgusting episode, Trump has been cheered on by members of his own party, adding fuel to the distrust that has enflamed violent anger. This is not law and order. This is chaos. It is mob rule. It is dangerous. This is sedition and should be treated as such," said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons in a statement. "The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power, and any elected leader defending him is violating their oath to the Constitution and rejecting democracy in favor of anarchy."

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Industry trade groups PhRMA and BIO are also among the 14,000 member companies of NAM.

BIO retweeted NAM's statement, repeating "this is not the vision of America" manufacturers work to defend. BIO President and CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath, M.D., also pointed out the more pressing issue of the COVID-19 pandemic in a statement.

"As we are staring down a global pandemic, it is now more critical than ever for Congress to return to their important work and join together in a unified front to fight the disease and not each other," she said.

NAM refers to the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which provides a mechanism for removing an unfit president from office. The vice president and a majority of Cabinet members can declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office and transfer power to the vice president.

PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl called the events in D.C. “appalling" and said they "violate the better values of our nation.” He added in a Twitter post: “It’s time for the peaceful transition of power our Constitution requires and the mob standing in the way must be condemned.”

Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., sent a letter to colleagues and posted a statement on Twitter, calling the violence “deeply disturbing” and also implored people to come together.

“Whether we are Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, we all have a role to play in making this democracy work,” he said.

J&J Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky also issued a statement noting that as an American, military veteran and business leader, he was devastated "by this assault on what our country has stood for since its founding: free, fair and peaceful elections.” He called for unity to “chart our path to a better and healthier future.”

Amid the calls for unity, executives reminded that need especially in light of the ongoing pandemic. Alnylam CEO John Maraganore said, "During this pandemic claiming countless lives, we need the best of us, our scientists, healthcare and frontline workers, not hateful and fractured acts of division."