Novartis freezes drug prices in a nod to Trump

Novartis freezes drug prices in a nod to Trump

Another drug company is promising to cut prices on some medications.

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".

Pfizer was expected to raise the cost of its USA products by as much as 10%. The company will drop the price of Zepatier, a Hepatitis C drug, by 60%, and decrease the costs of "several other" drugs by 10%.

Pfizer moved on July 1 to raise the prices on 41 drug products. "When I looked at the policy environment in the USA with our team, 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 chief executive Vas Narasimhan told Bloomberg Television, shortly after the drug maker first disclosed its decision as part of its latest earnings report on Wednesday.

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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. Neither of these moves will lower prices, and are merely short-term.

Pfizer agreed to postpone the second hike until the end of the year or until Trump's plan to lower drug prices goes into effect-whichever is sooner. This drop in sales is most likely the result of fierce competition from other hepatitis C treatments, with Gilead's treatment so effective, it's even causing problems for Gilead. In fact, Merck did not record any USA sales for the product in the first quarter of this year.

According to the IMS data provided by Raffat, the six drugs collectively brought in approximately $12 million during all of 2017. In a 65 percent decline from past year, Zepatier brought in $131 million in global sales in the first quarter of 2018. On the other end of the spectrum, Merck's blockbuster PD-1 inhibitor brought in $838 million in US during the same three-month period of 2018.

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