Drug Giant Novartis Is Temporarily Backing Off Price Increases Following Trump Pressure


Merck said Thursday evening that it would cut the cost of hepatitis C medicine Zepatier by 60% and would lower the cost of six other medications by 10%, including Prinivil (Lisinopril), Proscar (finasteride), Remeron (mirtazapine), Sinemet (carbidopa/levodopa), Sinemet CR (carbidopa/levodopa ER) and Trusopt (dorzolamide HCl).

This moves came after drug giants Novartis and Pfizer said they are limiting drug-price increases in the United States.

"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.

The New Jersey pharma also said that it would "not increase the average net price across our portfolio of products by more than inflation annually". Merck's overall annual sales exceed $40 billion. "Likewise to Pfizer. We are making a big push to actually reduce the prices, maybe substantially, on prescription drugs", Trump said in a tweet.

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Last night also Merck & Co responded to the president's appeal.

Under direct pressure from Trump, Pfizer Inc, the largest USA drugmaker, said it would delay July 1 price increases until the end of the year or until the president's blueprint for lowering drug costs goes into effect.

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.

Pfizer's and Novartis' tactics don't guarantee long-standing commitments to voluntarily reduce or halt drug price increases, either, and won't necessarily translate into lower prices for American patients, given the convoluted nature of the pharmaceutical supply chain. He has not yet commented on Merck's announcement.

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Pfizer moved on July 1 to raise the prices on 41 drug products.

"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 announced in May a plan to lower drug prices by, among other things, giving the government better tools to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries and counter foreign government regulations that often keep drug prices artificially low.

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