Trump to meet Novartis CEO, other pharma bosses on Tuesday

By John Miller

(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, who has accused drugmakers of “getting away with murder” on prices, will meet executives from the pharmaceutical industry at the White House on Tuesday.

Switzerland’s Novartis <NOVN.S> said its chief executive Joe Jimenez, chairman-elect of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), would be among those attending, after the White House announced the meeting on Monday.

Trump and the Republican-majority Congress, as well as raising concerns over medicine prices, have also begun rolling back former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation.

Jimenez said last week that he wanted to talk to Trump about efforts to develop outcomes-based pricing models, which would pay for clinical results rather than a flat price per pill, as well as plans to replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as “Obamacare”.

“I’m in Washington quite frequently, because we have a large government affairs group,” Jimenez told reporters at the company’s annual press conference.

“Obviously, we would love to in the coming months be able to sit down and talk with the administration about how we can be helpful in what is happening in the U.S. around the Affordable Care Act and also show him some of what we have done in terms of outcomes-based pricing and being a leader in that space.”

Trump spooked investors in the pharmaceuticals and biotech sectors by saying on Jan. 11, while president-elect, that drug companies were “getting away with murder” on what they charged the government for medicine and that he would do something about it.

That prompted PhRMA, the industry’s largest lobbying group, to unveil a new TV marketing campaign last week, called “Go Boldly,” to improve its image by focusing attention on strides in research.

Company executives, meanwhile, have tried to tread a careful line in defending their industry while expressing optimism that the United States would continue to reward scientific advances.

“If you provide true medical differentiation coupled with a strong intellectual property position, I think the U.S. will continue to reward this kind of innovation,” Roche <ROG.S> CEO Severin Schwan told Reuters this month. “If you don’t offer that then, frankly, I think it is the right thing that prices should come down.”

(Additional reporting by Eric Beech and Ben Hirschler; Editing by Peter Cooney and Susan Fenton)

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