Aug. 14, 2017

Trump Is All Talk on Big Pharma, But Silent on Racism

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

President Donald Trump has harsher words for Merck, a company resigning from a presidential advisory council over Trump’s shameful reaction to Charlottesville, than he does for violent racists chanting Nazi slogans, one of whom killed an anti-racism protester.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier never should have associated the corporation with Trump – the president’s reaction to Charlottesville is hardly the first display of his racism and intolerance – but Frazier deserves credit for, belatedly, resigning from a presidential advisory council. It is past time for other CEOs on that and other advisory councils to resign. More to the point, it is past time for corporate America to end its dalliance with Trump, time to stop averting a blind eye to his outrageous conduct and dangerous intolerance, in hopes of gaining regulatory rollbacks and tax giveaways.

As for excessive medicine pricing, President Trump doesn’t need to beg Big Pharma to lower its prices – he needs to take action. But after lots of bluster on his campaign, Trump seems to have abandoned plans to make medicines more affordable for Americans. Instead, he has turned to a Big Pharma lobbyist (Joe Grogan, formerly chief lobbyist for the pharma giant Gilead) to coordinate a working group. Leaked papers from that working group suggest its proposals contain virtually nothing to lower prices. Instead, they would lower safety standards and strengthen the industry’s monopoly power, resulting in increased prices abroad and potentially even raising prices within the United States.

When it comes to making medications affordable, President Trump is all talk, no action.

When it comes to denouncing racism, President Trump is no talk at all.