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Cummings, Trump meeting on drug prices back on

10 March 2017

Peter Welch and Elijah Cummings took a break Wednesday from the health care fight on Capitol Hill to spend almost an hour with President Trump to seek common ground on reducing prescription drug prices.

The Congressmen pitched a House bill that would expand the federal government's ability to negotiate drug prices, and they left feeling optimistic about what Trump will do.

A meeting with top pharma executives in late January appeared to focus more on bringing manufacturing and jobs back to the USA, and lowering regulations than it did direct price negotiation - although Trump did say drug prices have been "astronomical". Elijah Cummings, D-MD, and Peter Welch, D-VT, the White House released a relatively bland statement saying Trump was interested in working "in a bipartisan fashion to ensure prescription drug prices are more affordable".

Trump speculated at the time that someone like Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer - or "some other lightweight" - had told Cummings not to have the meeting.

Unfortunately for pharma, Cummings used the Wednesday meeting to push his plan for Medicare price negotiations. "President Trump seemed undeterred and unfazed by that", Welch said.

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Mr. Trump has, in the past, stressed the need to bring down drug prices.

And, Welch said, "the price is starting to kill us, we just can't afford it". The latest proposal would direct the HHS Secretary to establish a formulary. Adding into the law that the HHS Secretary should be part of the negotiations merely adds a "bully pulpit", he said. "You go to a drug store in January, it's $100".

The letter cites a February 2 article published by Politico saying federal employees are using encrypted apps such as WhatsApp and Signal to communicate with other government workers and to contact members of the press, as well as a February 8 Axios story about members of the Trump administration using Confide, an encrypted messaging app that deletes messages after they've been read.

She pointed to a Congressional Budget Office report that said HHS would not be able to negotiate lower prices than already exist.

After the tweet, pharmaceutical stock prices fell - led by biotechnology companies - which use complicated engineering techniques to develop drugs, contributing to their high cost. "We have no choice".

Cummings, Trump meeting on drug prices back on