Trump takes aim at pharma, promising 'I'm going to bring down drug prices'

Donald Trump
Donald Trump promised to bring down drug prices in an interview that published Wednesday.

Any drugmakers still thinking they got off easy when Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election may want to think again.

"I'm going to bring down drug prices," the president-elect told Time Magazine in an interview that published Wednesday. “I don’t like what has happened with drug prices.”

The way he sees it, analysts and investors may have misunderstood his intentions, which are, he says, to follow through with pledges he made on the campaign trail. He’s shown support in the past for letting Medicare negotiate drug prices—and while he never went as far as his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in attacking the industry, the Medicare stance is a pharma-unfriendly measure that crosses his party lines.

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Still, biopharma stocks—which had been depressed since Clinton’s initial promise to go after industry players—soared 9% the day after Trump’s election. Now, though, investors may be hearing Trump better; they sent industry shares south again Wednesday in response to his comments.

There’s at least one pharma CEO who won’t be one bit surprised by Trump’s latest pledge, and that’s Allergan chief Brent Saunders. Last week, he penned an op-ed in Forbes warning peers not to “fool” themselves.

“Limit your price increases before we all face the impact of government regulation that stifles innovation and patient care,” he warned. “ ... The outcome on November 8 didn’t change the fact that many Americans are angry about the rising cost of healthcare and their medicines. This anger will fuel the discussion about affordability well into the future.”

He's already taken his own advice, promising in September to limit price increases as part of a "social contract" with patients. And Novo Nordisk this week followed suit, laying out a price-increase promise of its own as one of several steps it plans to take amid the drug-pricing firestorm.

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