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Eli Lilly CEO supports Trump's 'blueprint' for growth

Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks has been on the job for less than two months, and he's already become a vocal proponent of the Trump administration's new tax proposals.

"The U.S. is really the outlier here," Ricks said during an interview on CNBC's "Power Lunch." "Our system is old, antiquated and this is the time for change."

President Trump told drug-makers he wants to make it easier for pharmaceutical companies, such as Eli Lilly, to win regulatory approval for their products. Ricks has called his past meeting with Trump "positive" — citing advantages already in place that make the pharma industry attractive to a pro-U.S., pro-business president, such as largely U.S.-based research and development.

Ricks said the U.S. needs corporate tax reform — something he believes House Speaker Paul Ryan has made a "great start" on. Further, the pharma CEO said he welcomes more support from the Trump administration when it comes to "trade enforcement." Ricks views this as something that could impact drug prices, moving forward.

When it comes to Trump's immigration ban, which has been put on hold, Ricks said Eli Lilly has had the same position on immigrants for a long time — that stance being in favor of expanding the visa program to allow companies like Ricks' to hire more skilled workers.

"Many times people come to the U.S. to study … [Eli Lilly wants] a visa program that allows us to hire those graduates," to fill jobs.

Sanders attacks

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is now calling for a federal investigation on three pharma companies — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — alleging insulin price collusion, although the drug makers deny the allegations.

"We firmly understand the rules in place, and we have no part of any of that," Ricks told CNBC during his "Power Lunch" interview. There's no basis for Sanders' charges, he said.

The price of insulin has increased — at least for Eli Lilly — because of investments made in expanding facilities and creating new products.

"It's just not true that we don't have negotiations in the U.S. to lower drug prices."

— CNBC's Elizabeth Gurdus contributed to this report.