Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Trump claims Pfizer is 'rolling back price hikes'

Trump claims Pfizer is 'rolling back price hikes'

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) said on Tuesday it was deferring drug price increases for no more than six months after the company's chief executive officer had an extensive conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump. He said the company was "modifying prices" for roughly 10 per cent of its 400 medicines and vaccines, and that "list prices do not reflect what most patients or insurance companies pay".

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has hinted that Trump may use his bully pulpit to publicly shame companies that raise prices, but experts are skeptical it will have the desired effect.

Wells Fargo Securities issued a report this month that found that Pfizer raised prices on 41 drug products on July 1 and lowered prices on five products. As Common Dreams reported, "rather than allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices-a proposal backed by 92 percent of Americans-Trump's plan vaguely promises to "encourage innovation" in the private sector while pursuing "reforms" to Medicare to promote 'greater flexibility'". For Pfizer, the increases on July 1 applied to more than 100 drugs, including Viagra, Norvasc blood pressure medication and lung cancer drug Xalkori.

Dean Mastrojohn, a Pfizer spokesman, told the Washington Post that the company's "price list remains unchanged for the majority of our medicines".

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At the time, many U.S. companies were anxious about what might happen if Trump made a decision to lead a charge against their industry, and stocks for pharmaceutical companies fell that day. The company agreed to make the deferral while the Trump administration works on President Trump's blueprint to lower drug prices and improve healthcare for patients.

Pfizer's stock price appeared to take a dive after Mr. Trump's tweet, before rebounding.

"I can imagine [Trump] is going to be very interested in the next company that takes a price increase not justified by inflation or change in clinical benefit", Azar said during the rollout of the pricing blueprint in May. While prices on many drugs were increased, there were also decreases on a few of their products.

In a statement, the company said that it "shares the President's concern for patients and commitment to providing affordable access to the medicines they need".

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