Trump Thanks Novartis, Pfizer for Putting Off Drug Price Hikes

A building on the campus of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis

A building on the campus of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis

Zepatier had total US sales of $771 million in 2017.

Merck is the first major pharmaceutical company to actually lower its drug prices in the wake of the Trump administration's drug-pricing plan, which was unveiled in May, as Pfizer and Novartis simply deferred future price increases.

But those drugs make up less than 0.1% of Merck's overall sales, Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat said in a note on Thursday.

We are also lowering our price on ZEPATIER by 60 percent and several other medicines by 10 percent to reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients across the country.

We commit to not increase the average net price across our portfolio of products by more than inflation annually.

Roche, Bayer and Germany's Merck KGaA became the latest drug companies to freeze prices in the United States, amid increased scrutiny by the Trump administration of medicine costs.

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.

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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.

"If we look back at Merck's "net price increase" across portfolio in 2017, it was already meeting the criteria that Merck outlined today." he said. In fact, Merck did not record any USA sales for the product in the first quarter of this year.

Last night also Merck & Co responded to the president's appeal. He has not yet commented on Merck's announcement.

On July 9, Trump had criticized drug companies, Pfizer by name, for recently increasing the prices of more than 100 drugs.

"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.

The cost of healthcare is expected to be a major campaign issue ahead of November midterm elections, with control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, both now controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, potentially up for grabs.

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