Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Mark Lennihan / AP

Pharmaceutical company and drug distributor executives made one thing clear this week: There's still no agreed-upon solution to lowering the costs of drugs, and that's given them the green light to continue operating under the status quo.

Drug pricing has been a burning political issue well before President Trump called out the industry, ignited by the likes of Martin Shkreli and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Some companies, like Allergan, have pledged to limit price increases to less than 10%, no more than once per year. But those types of changes are in the minority, and many other drug makers continue to raise list prices that greatly exceed inflation — the latest example being a 552% increase over two years for a naloxone injector, according to Kaiser Health News.

Even the way a lot of pharmaceutical executives talk shows the issue hasn't really changed. Read on to see what some industry executives said during recent earnings conference calls about the pricing environment.

Drug manufacturers

  • Pfizer CEO Ian Read, who was not in this week's congregation of drug companies at the White House, tied lower drug prices to changes the Trump administration would have to make, such as looser Food and Drug Administration regulations and reduced corporate tax rates: "To the extent that they can remove regulations and make it easier and faster to bring drugs to market, that will make the marketplace a lot more competitive, which will then in turn help to bring down drug prices."
  • Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks: "I think we all understand the concern (Trump) is raising, and of course others are, that consumer out-of-pocket costs seem to be growing … We did not get into elaborate policy detail in terms of the U.S. pricing environment. But I think there will be time for that later."
  • Merck CEO Ken Frazier said Trump wants to "ease the cost burden on patients. But he was also quick to say he recognizes the importance of this industry, and he doesn't want to interfere with the incentives in the marketplace for us to continue to take risks."

Drug distribution companies

  • AmerisourceBergen CFO Tim Guttman said the company benefited from drug companies raising prices normally in January, and he still expects the usual price increases in June or July. However, there's less certainty about those summer price hikes: "This is clearly an open item given the unpredictability of pricing actions and the heightened level of scrutiny."
  • McKesson CFO James Beer said he has seen "mid to high single-digit brand manufacturer price inflation," and he senses that drug companies don't mind giving distributors their cut: "I think the manufacturers very much appreciate the work that we do and certainly have a willingness to fund our business model."

Go deeper

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!