Hawley, a staunch Republican, made the remarks during his appearance on The Ingraham Angle over at Fox News.
“I have no sympathy for big pharma whatsoever,” Hawley said, after the show’s host, conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, asked him about his thoughts on President Trump’s recent executive orders demanding drug manufacturers lower their prices.
Ingraham, earlier in the segment, also aired a clip from Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who, in an earnings call, noted that he is “disappointed” at President Trump’s newest executive orders.
“I'm disappointed by these executive orders. They pose enormous destruction at a time where the industry needs to be completely focused on developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine or treatment,” Bourla said, adding that while Pfizer has current plans to invest in both research and development and manufacturing in the United States, the pharmaceutical giant will be “forced” to rethink those plans because of the new executive orders.
Hawley, however, was not moved.
“In my home state of Missouri they’re charging people three, four and five times more than they’re charging folks in France and Germany and Canada and I’m glad that the President is standing up to them,” Hawley said.
The executive orders, which President Trump signed in late July, would allow certain drugs to be imported from Canada, as well as make changes to the way discounts negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers are passed on to Medicare patients.
The orders also require Medicare to pay the same price for some drugs – the ones patients receive in the hospital as part of Medicare Part B – that other countries pay.
This is a welcome development, Hawley said, noting that this could spell the end for the abusive policies that allow major pharmaceutical companies to gain profit by overcharging patients.
“This Big Pharma-Big Government alliance has been great for Big Pharma, they’ve made a killing, these past few years – really for decades – and it's really time they started putting patients first,” the senator stressed.
According to Hawley, however, one of the most important developments to be spurred by President Trump’s new executive orders – aside from merely regulating the prices set by pharmaceutical companies – is that the United States is taking the first few steps to once again start to manufacture pharmaceutical products, in reference to the $765 million government loan offered to Kodak, which, under the Defense Production Act (DPA), will allow the company to expand into a new sector – in this case, the production of ingredients for generic drugs.
The deal with Kodak is now under review.
“It is important that we manufacture as many pharmaceutical products as we can in this country,” Hawley said, noting that this is a good step toward independence from foreign supply chains, particularly that of China. (Related: Trump signs executive order to bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.)
“We are deeply dependent on foreign supply chains so I think it is incumbent to look at all the options for bringing those supply chains back, for getting medical production back in this country,” the senator added.
Earlier this year, Hawley introduced the Medical Supply Chain Security Act, which, according to his office, can help secure the U.S. medical product supply chain.
"The medical supply chain act will work to require that manufacturers report imminent or foretasted shortages of life-saving or life-sustaining medical devices to the FDA just as they currently do for pharmaceutical drugs," Hawley’s office said.
In addition, Hawley has also questioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about their efforts to mitigate potential drug and medical device shortages in the United States.