President Donald Trump said this week he could intervene on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs with Johnson & Johnson over access to its new medication to treat depression.
“I think they’ll be very generous with you,” Trump told Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie during a Wednesday meeting on opioid abuse at the White House, Bloomberg News reported. “And if you like, I’ll help you to negotiate.”
The pharmaceutical giant’s Spravato, a nasal spray, has been approved to treat certain types of depression. The president said he believed it could help reduce the rate of veteran suicide.
Wilkie said the VA was hoping to have the spray in its hospitals by the end of the year, noting its effectiveness.
The suicide rate was 1.5 times greater for veterans than for non-veteran adults, after adjusting for age and gender, in 2016. Male veterans between ages 55 to 74 had the greatest share of suicide deaths, accounting for 58.1% of the suicide deaths among veterans.
“Give it to anybody that has the problem, because you have people calling and our folks do a great job on the phone — but it’s a telephone,” Trump said. “You have people calling for help and if those people had that [the nasal spray], I’m hearing like instantaneously they’re in better shape.”