Drug giant Merck announces lower prices on some medications

A sign of Novartis on the top of a building at the company's campus in Basel on Oct. 27 2015

A sign of Novartis on the top of a building at the company's campus in Basel on Oct. 27 2015

In response to a congressional inquiry, Novartis said it planned to raise the prices of some drugs this year.

President Trump once again honed in on the high cost of USA prescription drugs on Thursday morning, praising Novartis and Pfizer for their recent decisions not to raise prices.

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

Pfizer was expected to raise the cost of its US products by as much as 10%.

Last week, Pfizer chief executive Ian Read said his company would delay increasing the prices of dozens of drug products after Trump publicly berated the firm one day earlier.

Earlier this month, after the end of the period reflected in the disclosures, Pfizer made a decision to delay expected increases in drug prices after Trump tweeted the company was "merely taking advantage of the poor".

"We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we're now in", he said on the call, according to multiple reports.

Both Pfizer and Novartis have said that they will not take the price increases that the industry typically takes at the end of the second quarter, and will instead hold off on those increases until next year.

In May, the Trump administration outlined a plan for lower prices, but critics have said it did not go far enough.

The New Jersey-based drugmaker will slash its hepatitis C treatment Zepatier by 60 percent and will lower the list price of six other drugs by 10 percent.

Trump announced in May a plan to lower drug prices by, among other things, giving the government better tools to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries and counter foreign government regulations that often keep drug prices artificially low.

It also said it would not increase the average net price of drugs in its portfolio by more than inflation annually. In a 65 percent decline from past year, Zepatier brought in $131 million in global sales in the first quarter of 2018.

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