Biotech and Pharma

Eli Lilly CEO expects a Trump executive order on drug pricing this year

Key Points
  • Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said on an earnings call Tuesday he expects an executive order on drug pricing in the second half of this year.
  • Ricks said there is "quite a bit of risk" for the pharma industry.
  • President Donald Trump railed against rising drug costs on the campaign trail and has continued his criticism since taking office.
A pharmacy technician fills a prescription inside a Wal-Mart store in Trevose, Pa.
Mike Mergen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said he expects a presidential executive order targeting drug prices this year.

Ricks said on an earnings call Tuesday that he expects President Donald Trump to sign an order. Reports have indicated that a measure may be weeks away, perhaps after the Senate votes on health care reform.

Trump bashed expensive prescription drugs on the campaign trail and has vowed to lower costs. Eli Lilly, which makes products to treat diabetes, cancer and other ailments, has raised prices on numerous drugs this year.

Ricks said he hopes Trump's plan includes ideas the pharmaceutical industry has proposed, such as passing through rebates for Medicare insurance coverage gaps, pricing based on treatment outcomes, and speeding up the FDA's backlog of generic drug approvals.

"Look, we've responded to the concerns as an industry and as a company I think pretty well in terms of putting proactively aligned ideas from across the industry on the table that can leverage the power of the marketplace and competition to help consumers with their out-of-pocket costs," Ricks said.

Even if the executive order includes items on the pharma industry wish list, Ricks said he doesn't think the debate will end there. He cited Democrats' "A Better Deal" campaign, which specifically targets lowering drug prices as one of its central components.

"So we need to continue to be on our game," Ricks said. "I think we've got a good team at pharma now. I think Lilly's doing our part within that, and the industry is on top of its game here. But there is still quite a bit of risk in the environment, and I wouldn't want anyone to think otherwise."