During his first press conference since the election, President-elect Donald Trump reiterated his campaign pledge to crack down on high drug prices. Biotech stocks fell immediately after his announcement.
In vague terms, Trump appeared to slam the industry for shifting operations overseas, and said that the government should open up bidding on medications in order to drive down prices.
"We have to get our drug industry coming back," Trump told reporters. "Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right."
"Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power," he continued. "And there's very little bidding on drugs. We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don't bid properly. And we're going to start bidding and we're going to save billions of dollars over a period of time."
In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying group PhRMA, said that the industry is committed to working with the President-elect. "Today, medicines are purchased in a competitive marketplace where large, sophisticated purchasers aggressively negotiate lower prices. We look forward to working with the new administration and Congress to advance proactive, practical solutions to improve the marketplace and make it more responsive to the needs of patients," said Ubl.
The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell about 3% immediately after the remarks.
Trump previously told Time in December, "I’m going to bring down drug prices." And on the campaign trail, Trump said that he could save Medicare "$300 billion" a year by letting it negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.
While Democrats support that position, Republicans have long opposed it, making Trump's statements — if he follows through — unprecedented.
Updated to include comments from pharmaceutical industry trade group.
Stephanie M. Lee is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Stephanie M. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.