Pfizer to Reverse Hikes after Trump Scolds

  • Pfizer to Reverse Hikes after Trump Scolds  (c) pfizerPfizer to Reverse Hikes after Trump Scolds (c) pfizer

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer did an about-face on price increases previously announced  for several drugs on Jul. 10 after facing scathing criticism from US President Donald Trump on Twitter.

In a statement, CEO Ian Read said management had agreed to "defer the company's price increases that were effective on July 1 to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system." The company said it will "return these prices to their pre-July 1 levels as soon as technically possible."

Via Twitter, Trump said Pfizer is "rolling back price hikes, so American patients don't pay more," adding that he and Health Secretary Alex Azar had discussed the issue with Read.  “We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!”

A day earlier, Trump tweeted about the hikes, saying: "Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason. They are merely taking advantage of the poor & others unable to defend themselves, while at the same time giving bargain basement prices to other countries in Europe & elsewhere.”

In a tweet of his own, Azar said that companies increasing prices “will be remembered for creating a tipping point in US drug pricing policy. Change is coming to drug pricing, whether painful or not for pharmaceutical companies.”

Last week, reports said that Pfizer had hiked prices for a large number of drugs, for some the second time this year. The average wholesale cost of a 100 mg Viagra pill gained nearly 20% against the beginning of 2018, while a bottle of Xalatan eyedrops for glaucoma rose to $107.05 from $89.38 in the same time frame, the British newspaper Financial Times calculated.

In May, Trump and Azar presented a drug pricing blueprint that seeks to boost negotiations and competition while providing incentives for lower list prices. None of the major changes in the pricing procedure suggested earlier were included.

While saying Pfizer's pricing reversal could represent a form of pharma price controls, analysts told the trade journal Fierce Pharma that “the more realistic outcome will be that companies will have to be even more conservative with their next round of price increases.” One noted that the entire drug supply chain is under examination from the administration and Congress. While many drugmakers have committed to only raising prices once per year, Pfizer has not, the analysts said.

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