Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
President Trump’s meeting Tuesday with pharmaceutical executives was a theatrical display of chumminess in which all the parties seemed to share deep regret over high and soaring drug prices. It also was a one-stop shop of misconceptions and misinformation about the causes of high drug prices, and therefore a mishmash of solutions, most of which are a lot more complicated than Trump thinks, some of which won’t work, and some of which are disguised handouts to the drug industry.
Donald Trump has a chance to rally his core supporters as well as left-wing Democrats by wrapping himself in the populist flag to take on the powerful drug industry. He vows to keep a campaign pledge to push legislation allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, a practice now prohibited by law. Proponents say this would reduce drug prices and Medicare costs for the federal government. Medicare pays for about 29 percent of prescription drugs in the U.S. and would have considerable leverage.
The problem of rising drug costs is not lost on President Donald Trump. He has been aggressive about singling out pharmaceutical companies for “getting away with murder” with their “astronomical” prices. And he’s campaigned on a pledge to bring costs down. … The problem with that last move, as experts have noted, is that it could actually make drugs more expensive, not less.Trump’s precise plans for pharma are more confusing than clarifying at this point. But as he moves forward, if he really wants to make medicines more affordable for Americans, he should focus on these three things.
President Trump recently pledged to let federal officials negotiate the prices of drugs covered under Medicare. He claims this will save taxpayers billions of dollars. Nobody doubts that Trump and his team are shrewd negotiators. But the sorts of “negotiations” that Trump refers to have nothing in common with haggling over a real estate deal. Instead, the action that Trump has proposed — repealing the non-interference clause, originally drafted by Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy and Tom Daschle — would result in Medicare drug prices going up and patient choice going down.
Although industry lobbyists have tried to paint Shkreli as “not us,” some of his jabs, cringe-worthy though they may be, are on target. Shkreli has called attention to the hypocrisy in his vilification, calling out companies that pulled back from selling drugs to his company only to raise the price by 400 percent overnight, as well as companies whose entire annual increases in revenue came from boosting prices instead of launching new products.
Full and fair disclosure is at the heart of our nation’s securities laws. So red flags fly when a company is silent on facts of interest to investors. That investing truth came to mind a little over a week ago, when the pharmaceutical giant Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals settled a yearslong investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. In the Jan. 18 complaint, the commission contended that Mallinckrodt and its Questcor subsidiary had engaged in anti-competitive behavior by acquiring the rival drug to their costly H. P. Acthar Gel — which goes for $38,000 a vial — and keeping it off the market to protect their profits.
Pfizer Inc. did the second-biggest biotech deal of 2016, a $14 billion take-out Medivation, after the Treasury Department slapped it away from the biggest merger in pharma history. After all that, you might think Pfizer would be done with M&A for a bit. Unlikely. The company on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings and 2017 revenue guidance that missed forecasts. With a weak late-stage pipeline and outsize dependence on older drugs, Pfizer has more buying to do if it wants its pharmaceutical sales to grow.
Less than a year ago, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. was the fourth-largest biopharma company in the U.S. with a premier cancer drug asset and the potential to go out and buy just about anything. But after setbacks to its immune-boosting cancer drug Opdivo that have drastically limited its growth potential, the company on Thursday was forced to cut its 2017 earnings guidance and now expects sluggish growth in the year to come. Technical difficulties that interrupted the company’s earnings call for several minutes were probably the most enjoyable part of the day for executives as analysts grilled them about the company’s strategy. Shares dropped more than 5 percent to their lowest point since 2014.
If you’ve got bad news to deliver, it’s always better to do it all at once, rather than parcel it out. Earlier this year, for example, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. cut its 2017 revenue guidance by $1.5 billion due to underperformance of its flagship generics business. That guidance, however, did not include generic competition for the most important form of its best-selling multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.