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Trump thanks Novartis, Pfizer for not raising drug prices

22 July 2018

Swiss firm Novartis followed, pledging not to raise drug prices in the United States this year.

President Donald Trump thanked drug makers Novartis and Pfizer for delaying drug price increases until at least the end of the year, giving Trump a chance to roll out his plan to reduce drug prices.

Last week, Pfizer reversed price hikes on some drugs in the U.S. after Trump threatened action and said on Twitter that drug companies should be "ashamed" for boosting costs. "When I looked at the policy environment in the USA with our team, we thought the prudent thing to do was to pull back on any further price increases in 2018 and evaluate as the environment evolves", Novartis chief executive Vas Narasimhan told Bloomberg Television, shortly after the drug maker first disclosed its decision as part of its latest earnings report on Wednesday.

Pfizer's July 1 hike was already its second this year after it raised prices on 41 drugs in January, according to Wells Fargo analyst David Maris, FiercePharma reported. "We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we're now in", he said.

The administration called the decision a win for American consumers, but critics argue it doesn't match up with Trump's May prediction that drug companies would soon announce massive, voluntary price decreases. He also threatened that the administration would "respond".

Amid scrutiny over big pharma drug pricing, Merck said on Thursday it would lower the price of some of its medications.

Merck plans to lower the prices of seven drugs, including Zepatier, a drug for heaptitis-c, by 60 percent.

Amid a shrinking patient pool and tough competition from companies like Gilead and AbbVie, Zepatier sales were down 65% in the last quarter, to $131 million.

"This decision [by Merck] is a response to President Trump's blueprint and reflects the industry's understanding that the president is serious about bringing change to our drug markets", said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Trump thanks Novartis, Pfizer for not raising drug prices