Pfizer tests Trump with plans to hike prices on 41 drugs

Leslie Hanson
November 19, 2018

Pfizer did not disclose which products it planned to increase prices on, but noted that the product earmarked for a 9% bump had recently won US approval for two new uses.

American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will raise the price of more than 40 of its prescription drugs next year, the company announced on Friday. "These list price increases are expected to be offset by higher rebates and discounts paid to Insurance Companies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers and the net effect on revenue growth in the 2019 is expected to be zero". The cost of the remaining 90 percent of drugs will not rise.

"We believe the best means to address affordability of medicines is to reduce the growing out-of-pocket costs that consumers are facing due to high deductibles and co-insurance, and ensure that patients receive the benefit of rebates at the pharmacy counter", Ian Read, Pfizer's chief executive officer, said in a statement. This would effectively place responsibility for lowering costs with PBMs and insurers, rather than drugmakers.

The drugmaker surprised many in July with its decision to walk back hikes after Trump tweeted that the company should be "ashamed" of itself for raising prices and taking advantage of the poor.

Pfizer said then that it would defer price increases until the end of the year or until the president's drug pricing plan went into effect, whichever was sooner. Several, including Roche, Merck & Co and Novartis, made similar pledges not to raise USA prices before the end of the year.

Merck and Novartis could not immediately be reached for comment, while a spokeswoman for Roche's Genentech unit declined to comment.

USA officials aren't happy: The move illustrates the "perverse incentives of America's drug pricing system", said a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

While Pfizer regularly takes price increases throughout the year, these planned increases are fewer in number than it usually takes.

In July, Pfizer backtracked on its plans to raise prices on 100 drugs after President Trump criticized the move on Twitter. Shares of Pfizer rose 0.1% in the extended session Friday after ending the regular trading day up 0.7%.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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