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President Trump called a press briefing Friday to announce the implementation of his rules on drug pricing, which he said could save consumers hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, but got sidetracked with a rant against Big Pharma, which he blamed for sabotaging his reelection campaign because his policies would hurt their business.
In particular, he attacked Pfizer, the largest drug company in the U.S., just two hours after his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, claimed credit for the development of Pfizer’s new COVID-19 vaccine on behalf of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed program. Trump accused Pfizer of waiting to announce the success of their phase III vaccine trial until the day after the presidential election in order to avoid helping him.
Apparently, in his mind, it didn’t work. Trump proclaimed that he won the election anyway, as he has all along, notwithstanding Joe Biden’s commanding lead in both the popular and Electoral College votes.
“Pfizer and others even decided to not assess the results of their vaccine, in other words, not come out with a vaccine, until just after the election,” Trump said. “That’s because of what I did with favored nations and these other elements. Instead of their original plan to assess the data in October. So they were going to come out in October, but they decided to delay it because of what I’m doing, which is fine with me because frankly this is just a very big thing.”
Trump made that accusation the same day that Pfizer submitted its COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization, the first company to do so.
“Big Pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign, which I won by the way, but, you know, we’ll find that out. Almost 74 million votes,” Trump said, failing to mention that Biden had so far received nearly 80 million votes nationwide. “We had Big Pharma against us. We had the media against us. We had big tech against us. We had a lot of dishonesty against us.”
For months, Trump has complained that the pharmaceutical industry has taken out ads critical of the executive orders he issued in July intended to lower prescription drug prices. Another order signed in September created a most-favored-nation policy that requires Medicare to purchase drugs at the same prices paid by other countries, rather than have American taxpayers and consumers subsidize the research and development costs. Drug companies oppose the policy and critics say it would give foreign drug manufacturers and governments too much power. Its implementation will likely face court challenges.
Pfizer and Moderna are the first U.S. companies to see their vaccines through phase III clinical trials. In China, nearly 1 million people have already been injected with a vaccine made by Sinopharm, a state-owned company, though clinical data on its efficacy has not been presented.
Still, Trump found a way to take credit for the very existence of a vaccine for COVID-19.
“Pfizer and others were way ahead on vaccines — you wouldn’t have a vaccine if it weren’t for me for another four years because FDA would have never been able to do what they did, what I forced them to do,” Trump said.
The benefits to patients of Trump’s reforms on drug pricing may be undercut by his administration’s efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act with no announced plans to replace it.
“The American people have been abused by Big Pharma and their army of lawyers, lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for politicians,” Trump said. “But I’ve been loyal to the special interests, I’ve been loyal to our patients and our people that need drugs, prescription drugs, and devoted myself to completely fighting for the American people, you see that. And this is not an easy thing to do.”
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