As we look for signs of which presidential candidate major corporations will see as best serving their interests, the head of the largest pharmaceutical company in the world is saying he can’t really tell.
Ian Read, the chief executive of Pfizer, said that he cannot “at this moment distinguish between the policies that Donald Trump may support or those that Hillary Clinton may support.”
Read, attending the Sanford Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference last week, was asked who makes him “more nervous.” He said he’s more concerned about control of Congress. “I’m sort of more focused really on understanding where the House control is going to be and where the Senate control is going to be,” Read said.
Trump has at times endorsed progressive health care policies such as allowing Medicare to negotiate for cheaper drug prices, a policy that is already employed by the Veterans Administration to save billions of dollars. Clinton has endorsed this idea as well, and pledged to cut the price of prescription drugs, releasing a number of policy ideas last fall.
But both candidates have a complicated record and have previously backed efforts supported by the health care industry. In the Senate, Clinton supported legislation that extended the data exclusivity period for biologic drugs, making it harder to bring cheaper generic drugs to market. Trump’s health care policy plan includes an idea to turn Medicaid into a block grant, meaning states may shift money allocated for health care to other priorities.
In Congress, the choice is more clear, as Republican leadership, along with a number of business-friendly Democrats, have relentlessly attacked cost-saving measures that might cut into the profits of drug companies. Legislators have pushed repeatedly to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a part of the Affordable Care Act designed to rein in health care costs by studying best practices, and in recent weeks, have pressured the Obama administration to stop a new trial to find cost-savings for Medicare Part B drugs.