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Drug makers are jacking up prices months after Trump boasted they were rolling them back at his request

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Big Pharma companies are announcing that they are jacking up drug prices just months after President Donald Trump took to Twitter and boasted that they would roll them back or hold them down at his request.

Just as car manufacturers are shuttering plants after Trump claimed that he was responsible for a surge in manufacturing jobs, drug manufacturers such as Pfizer and Merck announced this week that they will increase pricing — contrary to Trump’s promise of price decreases.

According to business columnist Micheal Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, the manufacturers pulled a fast one when they told Trump they would defer planned price increases back in May, only to drop the bomb before the end of the year.

On July 10th, Trump tweeted: “Just talked with Pfizer CEO and @SecAzar on our drug pricing blueprint. Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don’t pay more. We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!”

But industry observers point out that Trump lied when he bragged about prices “rolling back.”

As Hiltzik writes, “Instead, the company said it would ‘defer’ price increases on 41 drug formulations it had scheduled for July 1 until either Trump’s ‘blueprint to lower drug prices’ went into effect or the end of the year, whichever came sooner.”

He points out that Peter Maybarduk of advocacy group Public Citizen noted at the time, “Pfizer is only deferring price increases — not canceling them, and certainly not lowering its prices.”

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According to University of Pittsburgh pharmaceutical policy expert Walid Gellad, drug companies humored the president while making plans to go ahead with raising prices after getting kudos from Trump.

“Making promises to the president is not how you fix a fundamental market problem,” Gellad explained.

The Times report notes that Merck manipulated public opinion — and possibly the president — by playing fast and loose with the truth.

“Merck, in its July 20 announcement of price cuts, built itself a rather more elaborate loophole. The company said it would not increase the average net price of its entire portfolio of drugs by more than inflation annually,” Hikltzik wrote. “It dressed up the announcement by lowering the price of Zepatier, a hepatitis C treatment, by 60% and of six other drugs by 10%.”

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He then noted that the seven drugs listed were small, unpopular and unprofitable formulations that account for very little of their sales, writing, “Zepatier sales had fallen so low by the first quarter of this year that Merck listed the drug’s U.S. sales in its quarterly financial report as essentially zero.”

Addressing just Merck’s announced increase, and using its 2017 revenues as a guide, Hiltzik said the announced increases “will fatten Merck’s profits by about $357 million, or 15%.”

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‘This is ridiculous’: ex-prosecutor rips Democrats for not even swearing-in Hope Hicks before her testimony

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The House Judiciary Committee failed in how they went about interviewing Hope Hicks, the longtime Trump advisor who rose to White House communications director.

On Thursday, the committee released a 273-page transcript of Hicks testimony behind closed doors.

For analysis, MSNBC "Hardball" anchor Chris Matthews interviewed former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne.

Lawyers representing Hicks repeatedly objected to her answer questions.

"What is this thing, this word objection? This is loaded, all this wasted paper, a lot of this paper simply has the word objection on it," Matthews said, holding up a 271-page printout of Hicks' transcript.

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Hope Hicks told Congress that Trump has cut her out of his life — he virtually never calls her anymore

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Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks was broadly considered to be one of President Donald Trump's favorite staffers.

But when she left the administration in 2018, the president virtually cut off ties to her, and has only spoken with her five times since then, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday:

In her interview, Hope Hicks says she has only spoken to Trump between five and ten times since she left the White House in February 2018. (He used to call that much in a day.) They last spoke in April, when they had dinner. Our story from yesterday:https://t.co/3gzVY21c3z pic.twitter.com/VMZqhnbgib

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Elections regulator warns foreign intrusion into US campaigns is already happening

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In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Federal Elections Commission is warning that there is already foreign intrusion in the U.S. campaigns.

FEC chair Ellen L. Weintraub was forced to issue a statement after President Donald Trump said that he wasn't sure what he would do if a foreign government approached him with "dirt" on his political opponent. He said that he "might" tell the FBI but would likely hear what they had to say. He said that it wasn't illegal, but Weintraub issued a statement reiterating that it is illegal.

"I am particularly concerned about the risk of illicit funds and foreign support influencing our political system. Foreign dark money represents a significant vulnerability for American democracy. We do not know the extent to which our political campaigns receive foreign dark money, but we do know that the political money can be weaponized by well-funded hostile powers," the letter warned.

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