Are Drug Prices Going Down? Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, Bayer Make Announcements About Pricing

Amid pressure from the Trump administration, several major drug companies this week have announced temporary price freezes on their products. A pharmacy manager is pictured near medications on Aug. 7, 2007 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By Andrew N. White, International Business Times

Following some scathing comments from President Trump's Twitter account, several major drugs companies this month have announced a temporary price freeze on some medications for the year, while one company said it would even lower its price. However, there is skepticism that there would be much of a financial impact for patients.

Pfizer, Novartis, and Bayer are just some of the big pharmaceutical companies that have recently announced they would hold off on increasing prices. This comes after Trump slammed drugmakers in a tweet earlier this month criticizing their pricing.

[post_ads]Merck on Thursday said it would lower its drug costs, including the price of its Hepatitis C medication Zepatier by 60 percent, as well as cutting costs on several other medicines by 10 percent.

Pfizer also temporarily reneged on its price increases after Trump tweeted that it should "be ashamed" for "taking advantage of the poor and others unable to defend themselves."

"The company will return these prices to their pre-July 1 levels as soon as technically possible, and the prices will remain in effect until the earlier of when the president’s blueprint goes into effect or the end of the year — whichever is sooner," Pfizer said on July 10.

The company's products include Celebrex, Lipitor, Premarin, Viagra and Zoloft, and breast cancer treatment Ibrance, which has a retail price of $9,850 a month.

Swiss company Novartis followed Pfizer by holding back on a price increase.

"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 CEO Vas Narasimhan told Bloomberg on July 18.

Big Pharma's reversal may not mean customers will pay lower out-of-pocket costs for their medications. Experts warn that patients will likely be disappointed as costs may not drop due to several factors.

"It does seem more like a PR type of thing than anything that has a meaningful impact on the patient," Leigh Purvis, director of health services research in the AARP Public Policy Institute, told Money.


Purvis cited that drugs that have seen their prices frozen are already expensive since they are not competing against low-cost generic alternatives and that they could be subject to a hike in January.
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In May, the Trump administration issued a 44-page "blueprint" for cutting drug prices. The document included several proposals such as lowering Medicare reimbursement on hospital- and doctor-administrated drugs for customers.

After a lengthy battle with Congress, the Obama administration announced in December 2016 that it was abandoning an initiative from March that would have changed the way doctors' offices and hospital clinics get paid for drugs they administer through Medicare Part B.

Obama had previously said that pharmaceutical industry opposed changes to pricing because it simply threatened their profits.

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Business - U.S. Daily News: Are Drug Prices Going Down? Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, Bayer Make Announcements About Pricing
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