Biotech and Pharma

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier: There are ways to 'strengthen and improve' Obamacare coverage

Bringing foreign drugs into the US market is a dangerous concept: Merck CEO

The Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, may not suffer entirely from a Trump-led overhaul, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier told CNBC on Thursday.

"It depends on how they go about it," Frazier told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "The great thing about the Affordable Care Act is obviously that we have 20 million Americans who have [health-care] coverage who didn't have coverage before, but I think everybody agrees that there are ways in which we can strengthen and improve how that coverage is provided."

Frazier insisted that while drug pricing is a significant issue in isolation, elected officials should examine health-care spending as a whole for its effectiveness.

"We have to look at it as the overall health-care spending that we have in our society, and how can we allocate resources to get the most out of our health-care spending?" the CEO said.

Some of the president-elect's positions on health care, however, could create problems for the industry, Frazier said.

Trump has expressed support for the reimportation of drugs from countries where they cost less. The Merck CEO said he did not think this would be made possible.

"I think when the Trump administration takes a step back, they will realize that, if they haven't already ... this concept of bringing drugs in from outside the United States is actually a dangerous concept because we won't be able to guarantee the safety of those drugs," Frazier said.

"Every time we've tried to do that, no FDA commissioner has ever been willing to certify the safety of those drugs," he added.

A bipartisan bill to reimport drugs from abroad died on the Senate floor in 2008. It garnered support from notable Republican figures such as Sen. John McCain, among others.

Frazier spoke to CNBC at the fifth annual Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York.