WASHINGTON, D.C. May 11, 2018 – The pharmaceutical industry has swamped the Trump administration, despite the president’s vows to rein in price gouging corporations, according to a new report from Public Citizen.
President Donald Trump has staffed health agencies with a dozen high-ranking officials who have deep industry ties, according to the report, “Big Pharma Swamps Trump,” which is being released just ahead of Trump’s speech on medicine affordability, planned for today.
The officials include U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who previously served as president of Eli Lilly USA; U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who took consulting and speaking fees from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Valeant Pharmaceuticals; and Office of Management and Budget Associate Director of Health Joe Grogan, who lobbied for Gilead Sciences from 2011 to 2017.
Trump himself also has connections with the industry. Earlier this week, it was reported that his personal lawyer Michael Cohen sold access to the White House to the executives of major corporations, including the pharmaceutical manufacturer Novartis.
Trump also met with 10 industry executives since taking office, including Novartis’ then-CEO Joe Jimenez who entered into a contract with Cohen.
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In 2017, the pharmaceutical industry spent $279 million on lobbying the Trump administration and Congress, a record amount. So far in 2018, it has spent $84.7 million. All this comes after the Republican-controlled Congress passed a bill lowering the corporate tax rate, which saves the industry billions.
“The Trump White House is swamped with Big Pharma influence,” said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director. “Considering the industry’s power to shape Trump’s policies, patients should anticipate the president’s speech today with more than a little skepticism.”
“Big Pharma is investing more in the political process than it ever has, to protect its monopoly power and preserve its power to price gouge and rip off the American people,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Solutions to Big Pharma’s monopoly abuses are at hand, but they require a political will that we are unlikely to see from an administration in the grip of the drug corporations.”