Medical Devices and Prescription Drug Policy

Trump calls out Pfizer for raising drug prices

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President Trump on Monday attacked Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies for raising prices in recent weeks, despite his promise that costs to consumers would be declining.

“Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason,” Trump said in a tweet. “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.”

Pfizer, one of the world’s largest drugmakers by sales, raised the list prices for more than 100 of its prescription drugs on July 1, according to the Financial Times, marking the second time in a year the company has done so.{mosads}


The average wholesale cost of a 100 mg Viagra pill is now $88.45, an almost 20 percent increase from $73.85 at the beginning of 2018, according to the FT.

Mid-year drug price increases are a common industry practice that has not abated, despite the Trump administration’s efforts.

The administration in May introduced a blueprint aimed at reducing drug prices. Trump promised companies would be announcing “massive, voluntary” price drops within two weeks.

“I think we’re going to have some big — some of the big drug companies in two weeks, and they’re going to announce, because of what we did, they’re going to announce voluntary, massive drops in prices,” Trump said at the time.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has hinted that Trump may use his bully pulpit to publicly shame companies that raise prices, but experts are skeptical it will have the desired effect.

“I can imagine [Trump] is going to be very interested in the next company that takes a price increase not justified by inflation or change in clinical benefit,” Azar said during the rollout of the pricing blueprint in May.

In a statement, Pfizer said the drugs in question amount to only a small percentage of their entire portfolio.

“The list price remains unchanged for the majority of our medicines. Our portfolio includes more than 400 medicines and vaccines; we are modifying prices for approximately 10% of these, including some instances where we’re decreasing the price,” the company said.

Pfizer also noted that even though list prices may rise, most patients or insurance companies will not pay the full amount because of discounts.

This story was updated at 2:24 p.m.

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