Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Donald Trump appoints adviser who helps big pharma hike drug prices

Donald Trump’s new senior economic adviser has helped pharmaceutical companies lobby to charge astronomical prices for crucial drugs.


Last Monday, the White House confirmed that Tomas J. Philipson, a health care economist, was joining the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.


That announcement was made just hours after Trump publicly accused Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier of charging patients “ripoff prices” for drugs after he resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council in protest at the president’s response to the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.


Drugmakers in the U.S. have faced withering criticism in recent times for soaring prices, including by Congress and the president, though he has yet to actually act on his promise to contain them.


Perhaps that explains why the official White House statement announcing Philipson’s appointment to the council includes a lengthy list of the universities he’s taught at but no mention of the company he co-founded, Precision Health Economics.


PHE describe themselves as a “world-renowned, cutting-edge consultancy firm” that specialises in health policy, economics, and analytics.


It all sounds impressive and relatively harmless, but according to a ProPublica investigation earlier this year, the company has been enlisted by pharmaceutical companies to mount relentless public relations campaign touting new treatments and persuading insurers, including U.S. government programs such as Medicare, to cover the costs.


Precision Health Economics has boasted at least 25 pharmaceutical and biotech companies as clients, including giants like Amgen, Gilead, and Pfizer. They also, coincidentally enough, have consulted for Merck — whose CEO Trump denounced for gouging prices just this week.


The company’s founders, including President Trump’s new economic adviser Tomas Phillipson, recruited an impressive group of high-profile academics to consult for these clients. Some in higher education have expressed concerns that such a tight relationship with industry might suggest bias. “I personally find, when your enterprise relies so substantially on a particular source of funds, you will tend to favor that source”, said Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt.

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Merck CEO Frazier Quits Trump Advisory Council in ‘Stand Against Intolerance and Extremism’

Merck CEO Frazier Quits Trump Advisory Council in ‘Stand Against Intolerance and Extremism’ | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The head of U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co. has resigned from a manufacturing advisory council to the Trump administration in an apparent protest of the president’s failure to condemn in stronger terms the white supremacists who marched and waged violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.


Merck issued a statement Monday morning on Twitter from Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Frazier, saying, “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”


”As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Mr. Frazier said in the statement.


Almost an hour later, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter: “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”


Trump joins other online wackos who have bad-mouthed Frazier. For more on that, see “Merck CEO Ken Frazier's Inspirational Facebook Message Gets No Respect from Followers”;

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