In his first public remarks in a week, President Trump declared he believes Pfizer delayed the announcement of successful trials of its coronavirus vaccine until after the election in retaliation for new historic measures to reduce drug costs for seniors.
“You wouldn’t have a vaccine if 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,” the president said.
Announcing two rule changes affecting Medicare drug plans that “put Americans first,” he said Pfizer had planned to announce its 90%-effective vaccine in October.
Trump said the delay might have affected the outcome of the election.
However, alluding to his charge that Democrats stole the election, he inferred they would have carried out their plan anyway.
“I’m sure they would have found the ballots someplace, the Democrats,” he said.
“These corrupt games will not deter us from doing what is right for the American people,” Trump said.
The president said the drug companies “don’t like me too much, but we had to do it,” noting pressure from lobbyists.
Was the Pfizer’s vaccine delay payback?
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“I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep tit,” he said.
Trump said the new regulations will reduce drug costs for seniors by as much as 50% to 80%, depending on the drug, saving them “billions of dollars” a year.
“It’s something that has been talked about for years but nobody had the courage to do it, because of the power of ‘Big Pharma,'” Trump said.
The president, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, did not take questions from media.
Azar, a former drug company executive, said the new rules will “break this model” in which corporate insiders enrich themselves while patients “suffer” constantly increasing prices.
He said, addressing possible legal challenges, that “both regulations are extremely strong and any industry challenging them is declaring themselves at odds with American patients and President Trump’s commitment to lowering out-of-pocket costs.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of American said in a statement it is considering “all options to stop this reckless attack on the companies working around the clock to beat COVID-19.”
The new regulations will link what Medicare pays for medications administered by doctors to the lowest price paid by other countries, such as Canada, in what is called a “most favored nations” approach.
And drugmakers will be required to give to Medicare members the rebates for brand-name drugs that have been going to insurers and middlemen.