Friday, May 11, 2018

[U] These Various Narrative Lines -- Vines, Actually -- Are Growing... TANGLED: Trump, On [PhRMA-Infused] US Drug Pricing.

UPDATED: My buddie, Ed Silverman, at STATNews gets the credit for obtaining this quote from a Novartis insider: “With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players. We were trying to find an inroad into the administration. Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him. It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist. . . .” [End, updated portion.]

Apparently Mr. Cohen is a better "fixer" than Mr. Stiller's otherwise spot-on caricature portrayed, in last Saturday's SNL cold open. [It hasn't been since the earliest Chevy Chase days (only shortly-post Nixon), that these SNL skits regularly looked tame, by comparison to the ensuing week's ACTUAL unfolding hard news events.]

The White House has officially said, as of last night -- that in today's "US drug prices day" announcements, the primitive-in-chief will not, despite "promises" to the contrary (Q.: what might that word even mean -- to a guy like him?), allow direct negotiations on drug prices -- by Medicare and the VA Health system.

So, it seems that the $1.2 million was well-spent, by Mr. Jimenez (also, PhRMA's contribution to the 2017 inaugural now looks a savvy play). [I do think it an arguable five year stint felony, though, that both Messrs. Jimenez (now no longer with Novartis) and Cohen (now the target of multiple felony grand jury proceedings) didn't file LDA disclosure forms about this "like a lobbying" arrangement. There is also the argument that Mr. Cohen should have filed as a foreign agent lobbyist, under US law, since Novartis is a non-US HQ-ed company.]

In any event -- the main story here is Trump going all squishy (just as Mr. Cohen was offering to broker/fix, apparently):

. . . .US Rep. Elijah Cummings,D-Md., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., met with Trump in March 2017 to give him a copy of their proposal, which would allow the U.S. to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare, the biggest purchaser of prescription drugs.

"You know what we got in return? Radio silence. Nothing," Cummings said, adding Trump never responded to three additional letters over the past year. "He ignored us. And since then, our bill has been collecting dust."

Democrats were initially optimistic about working with Trump on the issue. He has decried the influence of pharmaceutical industry lobbying in Congress, warning last year that the drug industry is “getting away with murder. . . .”

Message today, from the sitting Administration? "Murder away!" [No surprise there, given this.]

And so, I'll resolve. . . to enjoy more Spring sunshine today, once dawn arrives. Smile.


No comments: