Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Pfizer to raise drug prices despite Trump complaints

Celia Hoffman | 19 November, 2018, 01:27

Pfizer said it would raise the list price of most of the drugs by 5 per cent, while prices for three will rise by 3 per cent, and the price of one by 9 per cent, all effective January 15.

Pfizer rolled back some increases in July under criticism from President Donald Trump, but earlier this month Chief Executive Ian Read said Pfizer was likely to go back to price hikes in January.

In July, half a dozen or so major drugmakers agreed to pause, refrain from or reverse mid-year increases to prices on their products, an olive branch to an administration in the midst of rolling out policies aimed at rising drug costs. Pfizer said it would raise the list price of most of the drugs by 5 percent, while prices for three will rise by 3 percent, and the price of one other will rise by 9 percent.

Trump attacked the company for raising prices in July, saying Pfizer "should be ashamed", which prompted a quick reversal, although a spokesperson at the time said the freeze would remain in place only until the end of the year.

Read said during Pfizer's third-quarter earnings call that it would resume increases: "I expect our approach by the end of year will be, what I would characterize as business as normal".

More news: UK supermarket's viral orangutan ad slammed by palm oil giant

The hikes "illustrate the perverse incentives of America's drug pricing system", said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley.

But by October, it became clear that Pfizer would go back to raising drug prices.

Pfizer's price increases are "not egregious" and may serve as a trial balloon to gauge the administration's response, said David Maris, senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities. "Look, I don't think our pricing situation has changed".

The company, which is one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies sales-wise, initially raised the price on 40 drugs before withdrawing those increases - a move later praised by the president. Both Trump and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is vying to reclaim her post as House speaker, mentioned it the day after the midterm elections last week.

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