Pharma giant Merck just lowered the prices of some of its medications

Kenny Tucker
July 22, 2018

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.

Last week, Pfizer reversed price hikes on some drugs in the United States after Trump threatened action and said on Twitter that drug companies should be "ashamed" for boosting costs.

The decision comes a little over a week after President Donald J. Trump singled out rival Pfizer over its price increases. "We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we're now in", he said.

Pfizer then announced it would defer the increases no later than January 1, or when the administration's "blueprint" on drug prices takes effect, whichever comes first.

Earlier this month Trump was able to persuade Pfizer CEO Ian Read to defer the company's planned price hikes, explaining in a call the company had complicated the administration's drug pricing plans. But the companies have garnered praise from Trump, who has assumed bragging rights for being successful in lowering drug prices. He also threatened that the administration would "respond".

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However the price cut may also be motivated by the increasingly competitive hepatitis C drug market - sales of Zepatier slumped in the last quarter.

Amid scrutiny over big pharma drug pricing, Merck said on Thursday it would lower the price of some of its medications. The company will drop the price of Zepatier, a Hepatitis C drug, by 60%, and decrease the costs of "several other" drugs by 10%.

In May, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar published "American Patients First", a blueprint detailing plans to lower prices and out-of-pocket costs by lifting rules preventing government health programs from securing deep discounts and introducing incentives for drug-makers.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $5.54 million between April and June, down 7.7 percent from the same period past year, according to disclosures released by the federal government on Friday.

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