Merck joins Pizer and Novartis in reducing drug prices
Merck & Co. have joined Pfizer and Novartis in halting price increases on medicines in the United States.
The American multinational pledged not to raise the average net price of its prescription drugs above the rate of inflation each year. The New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company have also stated that they will lower the price of hepatitis C drug Zepatier (elbasvir/grazoprevir) by 60% and reduce the price of six other drugs by 10% in an effort to lower costs for patients.
A spokesperson for the company commented that: “Going forward, we will continue to evaluate our portfolio of products to look for opportunities to further reduce costs for patients and the healthcare system.”
The announcement has come as Trump has focused his sights on big pharma. Merck joins a growing list of companies who have agreed to halt price hikes on their products in the US, following the unveiling of a blueprint aimed at increasing competition and reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar suggested that “This decision is a response to President Donald Trump’s blueprint and reflects the industry’s understanding that the President is serious about bringing change to our drug markets.”
The price hike halts have come as Trump has placed pressure on drug makers over prices increases, publicly shaming them over twitter. Earlier in July the US President attacked “Pfizer & others” for “taking advantage of the poor & others unable to defend themselves.”
However the move may not be as charitable as it appears. While Zepatier, recorded no sales in the first quarter of this year in the United States, the other six drugs on which prices were reduced are already available as generics, having lost their patents in recent years.
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