Pfizer Price Increases Spark Trump’s Ire

Drug giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) has sparked a lot of anger by raising the prices of their medicines again. US President Donald Trump seemed particularly perturbed, tweeting: “Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason. 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. We will respond!”

Pfizer increased prices on 41 products last week, including Viagra, arthritis treatment Xeljanz, and cholesterol drug Lipitor. The company said in a statement that about 10 percent of its products would have their prices adjusted and these adjustments would include reductions as well as increases. The list prices for most of its medicines would remain unchanged.

Several other manufacturers have increased their prices as well. Israeli generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd increased the prices for 14 of its drugs in June. Roche Holding’s Genentech division increased prices on some of its drugs at the beginning of the month.

The moves are in direct contradiction to the Trump Administration’s guidance on the matter. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued a tweet saying: “Change is coming to drug pricing, whether painful or not for pharmaceutical companies.” Neither Trump nor Azar detailed what those policy changes would be. The tweets sent Pfizer’s stock down briefly before it partially recovered.

This is not the first time that President Trump has declared his position on rising drug prices. He touched on the issue repeatedly during his campaign for president and previously said that the drug companies were “getting away with murder.” In May, the Trump administration released a plan to lower drug prices. However, the plan was criticized for its lack of vision.

Six weeks ago, Trump announced that drug makers would voluntarily offer “massive” price cuts. The announcement appeared to come as a surprise to major drug makers and those price cuts have yet to materialize. It remains to be seen whether the latest increases have created a tipping point in US drug pricing policy and whether the Trump Administration will be able to do anything about the rising cost of medications.

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