Novartis Follows Pfizer in Delaying Drug Price Increases

Novartis lawyer steps down over Trump lawyer payment
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Novartis International AG says it will delay plans to increase drug prices after President Donald Trump accused pharmaceutical companies of gouging prices for United States customers.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said Wednesday the Swiss drugmaker will hold off on boosting prices, describing the move as “reasonable” and “defensible” as the company thinks about navigating the business climate. “We thought the prudent thing to do was to pull back on any further price increases in 2018 and evaluate as the environment evolves,” Narasimhan told Bloomberg.

Novartis’s main rival Pfizer said it would freeze plans to raise the costs of certain drugs just one day after President Trump blasted the pharmaceutical giant over reported plans to increase prices. “Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason,” President Trump tweeted last Monday. “They are merely taking advantage of the poor & others unable to defend themselves, while at the same time giving bargain basement prices to other countries in Europe & elsewhere. We will respond!”

Pfizer Chairman and CEO Ian Read agreed to defer drug price increases following an “extensive discussion” with President Trump last Tuesday.

“Just talked with Pfizer CEO and @SecAzar on our drug pricing blueprint,” President Trump tweeted Tuesday while in Brussels for a summit with NATO members. “Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don’t pay more.” “We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same,” the President added. “Great news for the American people!”

Following his phone call with President Trump, Read announced Pfizer’s price rollback would “as soon as technically possible,” and would remain in place until the Trump administration’s “American Patients First,” blueprint aimed at making pharmaceutical drugs more affordable takes effect or by the end of 2018.

“Pfizer shares the President’s concern for patients and commitment to providing affordable access to the medicines they need,” Reid said in a statement. “We are encouraged that the President recognizes the value our industry brings to society and our ability to fulfill our mission to discover and bring innovative new medicines to patients.”

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