Pharma execs decline Trump offer for meeting on drug prices

A White House meeting with pharmaceutical executives that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE said would occur on Tuesday is now off, people familiar with the matter said.

A pharmaceutical industry source said that "there was concern that this would not have been a productive meeting" and that companies are still discussing how to move forward after Trump signed a series of executive orders on Friday taking aim at drug prices.

Trump had announced during Friday's signing ceremony that there would be a meeting at the White House with industry executives on Tuesday, which he said would give drug companies a chance to propose an alternative to one of his executive orders. Drug companies, however, never publicly confirmed that they would attend the meeting.

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The White House on Monday indicated it was still interested in having the meeting, but it appears drug company executives do not want to move forward, at least not yet.

"The White House has been more than accommodating in attempts to schedule this meeting," a White House official said.

The executive order in question would lower the prices Medicare pays for certain drugs by tying them to lower prices in other countries. Trump said Friday he would delay the order from going into effect until Aug. 25 to give companies time to propose an alternative.

"We’re going to see them on Tuesday," Trump said last week. "We’ll see if we can do something here."

Another issue cited by the pharmaceutical industry source was the fact that the White House has not released the text of the executive order in question.

"We don't even know what we're negotiating against," the source said.

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The White House has declined to say when it will release the text.

More broadly, there is a question as to when any executive order on drug prices would go into effect. Further steps in the regulatory process would likely have to play out, making it unclear when or even if any changes will take effect and lead to lower drug costs for consumers.

Democrats have dismissed the executive orders as election year stunts that have no real teeth.

Inside Health Policy first reported that the Tuesday meeting was off.

A spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America did not directly address on Monday whether industry executives are willing to meet with the White House about the executive order.

"Right now our industry’s sole focus is figuring out a way to beat COVID-19," the spokesman said. "The president’s plan to import policies from socialized health care systems abroad is disrupting our work and diverting our focus away from those life-saving efforts. We remain willing to discuss ways to lower costs for patients at the pharmacy counter. However, we remain steadfastly opposed to policies that would allow foreign governments to set prices for medicines in the United States."