Trump News Conference Leaves DC Pharma Scrambling

Putting aside the fact that PEOTUS Donald Trump convincingly crushed his first news conference in months — and did so by demonizing the media in general and Buzzfeed in particular — there was plenty of substantive policy news.

Trump’s trashing of the pharmaceutical industry was a health policy cluster bomb tossed from his New York City podium into K Street’s midst.

Pharma executives are panicking, lobbyists are scrambling, and a non-binding test vote in the Senate vote last night demonstrates the drug pricing issue’s potency.

Trump called the pharmaceutical industry’s practices “disastrous” and suggested the government should enter the pricing picture. Drug stocks then tanked on Wall Street while AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez pledged to keep all drug price increases under 10 percent this year — becoming the third drug company to make the pledge following NovoNordisk and Allergan.

The Senate then voted 46–52 last night on a Sanders/Klobuchar amendment that would allow for the importation of drugs from Canada by pharmacists, wholesalers, and individuals with a valid prescription.

Indicative of how lawmakers might vote on a drug pricing measure later this year, 12 Republicans voted yay: Sens. John Boozman, Susan Collins, Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, Chuck Grassley, Dean Heller, John Kennedy, Mike Lee, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul and John Thune.

13 Democrats — including Sens. Cory Booker and Patty Murray — opposed the measure.

At the moment, there is no other health policy issue in Washington that offers so many policy and political cross-currents on Capitol Hill and K Street.

But it’s simply reflective of Trump’s disruptor modus operandi — and it’s a good thing.

(Originally posted on Hensley’s DCSpectator corporate blog)