Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Trump thanks Novartis, Pfizer for not hiking drug prices

Trump thanks Novartis, Pfizer for not hiking drug prices

Novartis' position about this year's price increase has been announced during the Q2 2018 earnings call transmitted as a live audio webcast.

Facing pressure from the Trump administration and lawmakers, Swiss drugmaker Novartis has also halted anticipated price increases.

Novartis's decision to hold the line on prices in the USA was voluntary and the company aimed to have a "system that can support breakthrough innovation ... but still ensure affordability". "Right now, in a very dynamic environment in the United States ... we view it as the prudent course".

Last week, Pfizer reversed price hikes on some drugs in the USA after Trump threatened action and said on Twitter that drug companies should be "ashamed" for boosting costs.

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Pfizer moved on July 1 to raise the prices on 41 drug products. The announcements came after Trump slammed big pharmaceutical companies - and Pfizer specifically - in a Twitter post, saying they should be "ashamed" and "are merely taking advantage of poor [and] others unable to defend themselves".

Pfizer agreed to postpone the second hike until the end of the year or until Trump's plan to lower drug prices goes into effect-whichever is sooner.

Trump has pressured drug companies to keep prices low, and met with Pfizer after it announced price increases for more than 100 drugs.

Roche, Bayer and Merck KGaA all said on Friday they would not seek to lift prices this year in the world's biggest drug market, following Novartis, Pfizer and USA drugmaker Merck which had already announced similar moves.

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Merck also says it will not raise the average price of drugs beyond the annual rate of inflation.

In May, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar published "American Patients First", a blueprint detailing plans to lower prices and out-of-pocket costs by lifting rules preventing government health programs from securing deep discounts and introducing incentives for drug-makers. But the administration's proposals for reducing prices has been met with some skepticism. Instead, it reduce the price of Zepatier, a treatment whose sales have dropped so low that USA sales were offset by after-the-fact rebates to insurers.

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.

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