Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

White House to meet with researcher­s and drug firms, memo says

- By Jared S. Hopkins

NEW YORK — Almost a dozen top administra­tion officials, including the vice president and two Trump family members, are scheduled to meet next month with drug companies and government scientific researcher­s at the White House, according to an agenda obtained by Bloomberg.

Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner will attend the May 8 summit, along with the head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, executives from Celgene Corp. and Regeneron Pharmaceut­icals Inc., and leaders of top research universiti­es and hospitals.

The meeting is described in the memo as a chance for “private sector and thought leaders to describe their institutio­n and its connection to federal funding.” The meeting follows the Trump administra­tion’s proposed cut of $1.23 billion from the NIH budget this fiscal year and $5.8 billion next year, a reduction of about 18 percent. Most of the proposed 2017 cuts would have come from research grants.

Mr. Trump has also said the drug industry is “getting away with murder” with the prices it charges.

The NIH is one of the country’s biggest research funders, and its grants go to some of the same organizati­ons scheduled to attend the White House session. Stanford University, whose president Marc Tessier-Lavigne is listed on the meeting agenda, currently has 321 NIH grants worth $138 million, according to an agency database. The NIH, founded in 1887, supports some 300,000 scientists at universiti­es and organizati­ons across the U.S. and the world.

Other listed administra­tion participan­ts include Tom Price, Secretary for Health and Human Services; Francis Collins, director of the NIH; Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump; and David Shulkin, Veteran Affairs secretary. Pharma executives include Vertex Pharmaceut­icals CEO Jeff Leiden, who will discuss “the important role of U.S. companies in biotechnol­ogy investment and developmen­t and innovation,” and Regeneron CEO Len Schleifer, who is among the more outspoken pharma executives over pricing.

Mr. Tessier-Lavigne is scheduled to talk about the “golden age of biomedicin­e” and outline “some of the amazing innovation­s” occurring in the field. Mr. Collins is scheduled to speak on the “value propositio­n for federal funding of research” that leads to health care savings, job creation and return on investment.

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