Trump, frustrated over latest hikes, calls White House meeting on prices: report

Donald Trump
After a new round of industry price increases, President Donald Trump summoned drug pricing advisers for a White House meeting, Politico reports. (C-SPAN)

Despite President Donald Trump’s push for his administration to lower drug costs, many drug companies are instead raising prices—and Trump ain't happy. In fact, the president summoned officials to the Oval Office to voice frustration over the moves, Politico reports

As the calendar flipped to 2019, dozens of drugmakers raised prices on hundreds of drugs, Rx Savings Solutions CEO Michael Rea, Pharm.D., told FiercePharma. The president caught wind of the increases, and as he has in the past, Trump took to Twitter to voice his disapproval. 

As industry watchers know, this year's price increases come as the Trump administration works to implement its drug pricing blueprint, which aims to boost competition and negotiation in drug markets, and provide incentives for lower list prices and lower out-of-pocket costs. Officials at HHS are working to force drug prices in TV ads, as well as to lower certain Medicare prices, while the FDA has boosted generics approvals and is otherwise working to boost competition. 

But the effort hasn't been without controversy. Last year, amid discussion on the blueprint, Pfizer planned to raise prices on dozens of drugs. Trump tweeted that the company “should be ashamed," and Pfizer deferred its hikes. Now, the drugmaker plans a set of price increases next week.

Looking ahead, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, drug pricing promises to remain a frequent topic of conversation in Congress this year. Already, Democrats have floated new proposals to fight high prices. 

RELATED: Pharma raises prices to ring in 2019. Will it trigger action in Washington? 

This week's news comes as thousands of industry players meet in San Francisco for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Drug costs were part of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s keynote address on Tuesday, when he said the agency shouldn’t be an arbiter of cost-effectiveness. Instead, it's working to boost competition in drug markets where it’s currently lacking, Gottlieb said. This year, the FDA plans to look at patent issues, complex generics, biosimilars and more.

For his part, Amgen CEO Bob Bradway said on Tuesday that the environment in biopharma is “volatile,” adding that companies won’t be able to grow simply through yearly price hikes on specialty drugs.  

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