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Trump pledges fewer regulations, more competition for drugmakers

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President Donald Trump says he wants to lower drug prices and bring pharmaceutical companies back to the United States. (Jan. 31)
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WASHINGTON — President Trump pledged in a White House meeting with drugmakers Tuesday to cut taxes and streamline regulations for the pharmaceutical industry in a bid to drive down drug prices for Americans.

He pledged to increase “competition and bidding wars big time” and also asked attendees to create more jobs for Americans.

“You have to get your companies back here,” Trump said.

Among the attendees were executives from Celgene, Merck, Johnson Johnson and Amgen, whose CEO Robert Bradway said the company is adding 1,600 jobs in the United States this year.

Trump, in his first press conference as president, lashed out at drugmakers, saying they had been “getting away with murder” because the federal government did not require them to compete for its business.

But the president’s message of lower taxes and reined-in regulation appeared to resonate Tuesday with the drugmakers.

“Those are things that can really help us,” Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said.

The gathering was the latest in a round of meetings convened by the White House during the opening weeks of Trump’s presidency in an effort to kick-start and highlight his efforts to focus on job creation. He met last week with union leaders, car makers and other manufacturers and made similar pledges to reduce regulations and taxes.

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In the meeting with pharmaceutical executives Tuesday, Trump said it can take as long as 15 years and millions of dollars to get FDA approval for a new drug but he will seek to slash that. He said 9,000 pages of regulations should be cut to 100.

“We have to do better, accelerated cures,” he said.

Trump also said patients who are terminally ill should have the option to try treatments that are not fully approved.

“We’re going to be changing a lot of the rules,” he said, noting that he is preparing to identify his pick to head the FDA soon.

“I think we’re going to make a tremendous difference,” Trump said.

Trump also suggested that other countries are not paying their fair share for drugs and called it global “freeloading,” a practice he said would end.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazer told reporters outside the West Wing after the meeting that their conversation with Trump was “very constructive.” He said the president was “very much focused” in finding ways to give patients more choices.

“We had a great conversation,” he said.