Pfizer buckles under pressure from Trump, delays drug price increases

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a Make America Great Again rally in Great Falls Montana

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.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Wolf in July Fourth salute: "God bless abortions and God bless America" Graham: Trump's Supreme Court picks "all winners" Man arrested after allegedly threatening to kill Trump supporters, GOP lawmaker MORE on Monday attacked Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies for raising prices in recent weeks, despite his promise that costs to consumers would be declining.

The across-the-board increases cast doubt on whether Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar can pressure manufacturers to voluntarily drop prices without the threat of specific consequences. The company said it would return drug prices to their pre-July 1 levels as soon as technically possible. "And there's very little bidding on drugs", Trump said during an event at Trump Tower in NY. It was followed by other pharma companies.

Trump has promised repeatedly to drive down drug prices, though so far most-noticed efforts have been using his Twitter account and stump speeches to call out pharmaceutical companies, rather than enacting major new policies.

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Pfizer raised list prices on around 40 medicines earlier this month.

Although many drug makers traditionally raise prices mid-year, Pfizer stood out last week for two reasons - the price hikes were for dozens of drugs and the actual increases were particularly large. Those include Viagra, cholesterol drug Lipitor and arthritis treatment Xeljanz, according to Wells Fargo.

Trump in May released a 44-page document that contained a list of ideas on ways to lower drug prices, but it did not contain any concrete actions that the White House would pursue.

"Pfizer shares the President's concern for patients and commitment to providing affordable access to the medicines they need", Read said in a statement. For example, in August a year ago he criticized Merck & Co., saying the company was shipping jobs outside of the US while raising prices.

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