Published: Sun, July 22, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Merck Lowers Cost Of Zepatier, Says Its Committed To Avoiding Price Hikes

Merck Lowers Cost Of Zepatier, Says Its Committed To Avoiding Price Hikes

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 Donald Trump thanked drug makers Novartis and Pfizer for delaying drug price increases until at least the end of the year, giving Trump a chance to roll out his plan to reduce drug prices. The company will drop the price of Zepatier, a Hepatitis C drug, by 60%, and decrease the costs of "several other" drugs by 10%.

Amid growing pressure by the Trump administration to reduce drug prices for US patients, Merck has announced that the company will not increase the average net price across their product portfolio by more than inflation annually.

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

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 US drugmaker Merck which had already announced similar moves.

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The Trump administration has also angered key allies by imposing tariffs of steel and aluminum imports earlier this year. President Donald Trump has said he is "not happy" about the fact that the US Federal Reserve is raising interest rates .

In May, the Trump administration outlined a plan for lower prices, but critics have said it did not go far enough. In fact, Merck did not record any US sales for the product in the first quarter of this year.

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.

While the administration is quick to commend Merck's decision and to file it away as a win for their initiative, Merck did not cut the prices of any of its big sellers, like the cancer treatment Keytruda or the diabetes drug Januvia. He has not yet commented on Merck's announcement.

President Trump on Thursday praised drug giant Novartis for temporarily postponing drug price hikes less than a week after Pfizer made a similar decision.

"This decision [by Merck] is a response to President Trump's blueprint and reflects the industry's understanding that the president is serious about bringing change to our drug markets", said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

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