May 8, 2017

White House makes peace with biotech executives

Alex Brandon / AP

The White House hosted a discussion this morning on the importance of biomedical research, which quickly turned into a pushback against proposed funding cuts. National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins led the meeting, which began with a quick speech by Vice President Pence and ended with President Trump inviting everyone for a quick visit to the Oval Office, per an administration official.

Who was there: General Atlantic CEO Bill Ford, Dr. Craig Thompson of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Cornelia Bargmann of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and executives from Regeneron and Celgene. HHS Secretary Tom Price, VA Secretary David Shulkin, and Ivanka Trump were there, too.

The bottom line: Collins told CNBC afterwards that they didn't discuss drug prices, but spent a lot of time talking about the Trump administration's proposed cuts in NIH funding. "Some have argued maybe we don't need the government involved in research," Collins said. "The companies, one by one, unanimously said, 'That won't work.' They count on NIH to fund the basic science."

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