Merck pledges to cut prices for seven drugs

22 July, 2018, 01:41 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Donald Trump

President Trump once again honed in on the high cost of US prescription drugs on Thursday morning, praising Novartis and Pfizer for their recent decisions not to raise prices.

The president took his frustration to Twitter, saying: "Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason".

Novartis's chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, said during an earnings call with investors that the company had made the decision in June, amid escalating outrage over high drug prices.

Merck & Co.is just the latest pharma to make a public show of its pricing policies, but much like pledges from Pfizer and Novartis, the moves may do more to help the industry's public relations image than realistically make a dent into healthcare system costs. "We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we're now in", he said.

Pfizer announced on July 10 that it will roll back price increases on dozens of drugs that went into effect on July 1 "following an extensive discussion" between chairman and CEO Ian Read with President Trump.

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The New Jersey-based drugmaker will slash its hepatitis C treatment Zepatier by 60 percent and will lower the list price of six other drugs by 10 percent.

In May, President Donald Trump issued a blueprint for bolstering competition and reducing regulations in the drug industry.

Trump's administration outlined a plan for lower prices a few months ago.

It also said it would not increase the average net price of drugs in its portfolio by more than inflation annually. "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. In a 65 percent decline from a year ago, Zepatier brought in $131 million in global sales in the first quarter of 2018.

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