Pfizer CEO “Enthusiastic” About Some of Trump’s Health Care Ideas

Other proposals draw less support

In an interview on National Public Radio, Pfizer CEO Ian Read said that he is “enthusiastic” about some of the changes President Trump is proposing for health care, such as tax reform and regulatory streamlining. But he indicated less support for other proposals, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Read was one of several Big Pharma CEOs invited to a meeting with Trump last week, but he was unable to attend because Pfizer was reporting earnings.

With regard to Medicare price negotiations, Read said the program is already benefiting from negotiations that occur outside of the federal program.

“Let me say firstly, the drug prices are negotiated every day,” he said during the interview. “It’s not as if you produce a new drug, and you bring it to market, and you say, ‘Here's my price.’ You’ve got to get the Uniteds and the PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers] and the Humanas of the world to agree that your product has value.”

When asked about talk in the administration about the need to overhaul the FDA, Read said that although the agency does some great work, it is programmed to be “risk averse.” Some of the people that the Trump administration has mentioned as possible FDA leaders have suggested that safety, not efficacy, should be the yardstick for a drug’s approval. “You need both,” Read said.

He addressed the current push to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by saying that the act didn’t provide much new business to Big Pharma because most of the insurance programs offered through it do not pay for new, innovative medications.

Price noted that “there was sort of an implied promise from the government that, if we paid all these fees and all these taxes to help fund the Affordable Care Act, there would be expanded business through the people who are getting insured. Frankly, most of the expanded insurance base does not use innovative products because the insurance is not of great quality.”

Sources: FiercePharma; February 9, 2017; and NPR; February 7, 2017.