President Trump on Friday accused drugmaker Pfizer of playing “corrupt games” with the timing of COVID-19 vaccine data in order to sink both his re-election and his drug price reforms, as he urged his successor to keep the game-changing policies.
Trump has not conceded to President-elect Joe Biden, but implicitly recognized the state of the race as he formalized three policies to cut drug prices.
Although Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room that “I won” the election, he also said he hopes the pricing reforms outlast his presidency.
“I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep it because the powerful drug lobby, Big Pharma, is putting pressure on people like you wouldn’t believe,” Trump said.
It was the president’s first briefing room appearance since major news networks declared Biden the president-elect. He spoke as Pfizer submitted a federal emergency use application Friday for its COVID-19 vaccine.
President Donald Trump during today’s briefing on drug prices.AFP via Getty Images
Pfizer publicly disclosed six days after the Nov. 3 election that its vaccine is more than 90 percent effective. The company denied delaying the results for political reasons.
Trump, who took no questions, announced two long-anticipated regulations on drug prices, which he said would take effect Jan. 1. One reform allows federal agencies to peg Medicare price rates to the lowest rate paid by other developed countries. Another seeks to slash payments to pharmaceutical middlemen.
A third reform announced by Trump will end a controversial program called the Unapproved Drugs Initiative, which allowed companies to knock generic drug rivals off the market.
Trump unveiled his dramatic plans to slash drug prices before the election and cast them as an important part of his legacy, noting he also moved to allow governors to import lower-cost drugs from Canada and brokered reduced insulin costs for diabetics.
Trump also tore into the drug companies for what he said was pro-Biden election meddling.
“Together, these reforms will save American patients many many billions of dollars every single year,” he said. “For generations, the American people have been abused by big Pharma and their army of lawyers, lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for politicians.”
AFP via Getty Images
“Big Pharma ran millions of dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign, which I won, by the way, but, you know, you’ll find that out — almost 74 million votes,” he said.
Trump continued: “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. 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 waited and waited and waited, and decided they thought would come out with it a few days after the election. And it would have probably had an impact. Who knows, maybe it wouldn’t have. I’m sure they would have found the ballots someplace, the Democrats and the group. These corrupt games will not deter us from doing what’s right for the American people.”
Trump’s campaign insists he can win a second term with recounts and litigation in states where Biden is narrowly ahead, including Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But he’s faced a series of setbacks, including Georgia officials saying Friday they will certify Biden’s thin win after a hand recount.