Drug makers vow not to raise prices this year

Five major pharmaceutical companies are postponing plans to raise prices on some of their drugs in U.S. markets, citing pressure from the Trump administration.
By Rick Docksai | Dec 07, 2018
European pharmaceutical firms Roche, Bayer, and Merck KGaA joined a growing number of companies that are freezing their drug prices in U.S. markets following President Trump's criticisms of the costs of medicine. The three firms said Friday that they will not raise prices for U.S. consumers this year, following Novartis and Pfizer, which have already instituted price freezes.

"Last week on July 11, we communicated to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that we will not be taking any price increases for the remainder of the year," said Roche in a Friday statement. "We take decisions related to the prices of our medicines very seriously and our commitment to patient access and investment in future breakthroughs are reflected in our actions."

Novartis had called off planned price hikes in June. It said this week that the "dynamic environment" of U.S. health-care policyespecially, efforts by Trump and others to lower drug costswas its reason.

Pfizer was going to raise prices, until Trump personally called CEO Ian Read to complain to that the price hikes would interfere with his administration's drug-pricing plan. Afterward, Pfizer called the price hikes off.

Trump thanked Pfizer and Novartis in a tweet this week.

Trump blasted drug companies' high product costs several times during the 2016 campaign, and he declared earlier this year that he will take action against "middlemen" in the industry whom he accuses of keeping prices high. He said that the industry is "getting away with murder, and he tweeted this month that the companies "should be ashamed."

Some analysts doubt that all five companies' price freezes will hold for more than a few months, however. They suspect that the companies may only refrain from price increases long enough to get out of the president's current line of fire.

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