Merck to lower prices for some drugs

Merck to lower prices for some drugs
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The pharmaceutical company Merck on Thursday announced it would lower the costs of some drugs in its portfolio.

The company will drop the price of Zepatier, a Hepatitis C drug, by 60 percent, and decrease the costs of "several other" drugs by 10 percent. 

It also said it would not increase the average net price of drugs in its portfolio by more than inflation annually. 

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The news was met with praise by the Trump administration, which took credit for the decreases by citing the president's tough talk on drug prices. 

“The President’s blueprint for lower drug prices is working, drug prices are coming down, and American patients are going to see the savings in their pocketbook. We welcome Merck’s decision to reduce prices and restrain future price hikes," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. 

“This decision is a response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE’s blueprint and reflects the industry’s understanding that the President is serious about bringing change to our drug markets." 

Merck is the first drug company to announce price decreases since the administration released its blueprint, though two other companies — Pfizer and Novartis — have said it would not increase the prices of drugs for the rest of 2018.

Drug pricing experts, however, note that Zepatier is not a key part of Merck’s business and hasn’t been as profitable as other drugs in its portfolio.

The company has not released a list of other drugs that will get price decreases.