Drug giant Merck announces lower prices on some medications

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Drug giant Merck announces lower prices on some medications

Pfizer's July 1 hike was already its second this year after it raised prices on 41 drugs in January, according to Wells Fargo analyst David Maris, FiercePharma reported.

President Trump once again honed in on the high cost of US prescription drugs on Thursday morning, praising Novartis and Pfizer for their recent decisions not to raise prices.

Merck said it's cutting the price of Zepatier, a drug that treats hepatitis C, by 60% and reducing the price of six other medications by 10% each.

Trump has promised to lower drug prices since the campaign and as is his style, has resorted to calling out companies by name on Twitter after reports of price increases.

Merck also says it will not raise the average price of drugs beyond the annual rate of inflation.

Roche, Bayer and Merck KGaA all said on Friday they would not seek to lift prices this year in the world's biggest drug market, following Novartis, Pfizer and USA drugmaker Merck which had already announced similar moves.

In 2017 it priced Ocrevus at $65,000 annually, undercutting German rival Merck KGaA's Rebif by a quarter even though Ocrevus beat Rebif in a trial.

Last night also Merck & Co responded to the president's appeal.

Earlier this month, the president was able to persuade Pfizer CEO Ian Read to defer the company's planned price hikes, explaining in a call that the company had complicated the administration's drug pricing plans.

Pfizer's and Novartis' tactics don't guarantee long-standing commitments to voluntarily reduce or halt drug price increases, either, and won't necessarily translate into lower prices for American patients, given the convoluted nature of the pharmaceutical supply chain. That prompted a tweet by Trump saying the company should be "ashamed" and promising an unspecified response.

After the meeting, Pfizer said it would hold off on increasing prices until the administration releases its drug pricing plan or the end of the year, whichever comes first.

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. Pharmaceutical company stocks rose after the blueprint was announced.

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