Trump Blasts Drug Companies for Price Hikes

Trump Blasts Drug Companies for Price Hikes
Pfizer logo in Manhattan, New York, City, on May 5, 2014. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Petr Svab

President Donald Trump has criticized drug companies, and Pfizer by name, for recently increasing the prices of more than 100 drugs.

“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!” Trump stated in a Monday tweet.

This was the second hike by Pfizer—which raised the prices of 41 drugs—after several drugmakers increased list prices of dozens of labels in January, according to Wells Fargo analyst David Maris.

The July 1 price increases were highlighted by Maris and confirmed by the company, FiercePharma reported. Prices of Zoloft and Viagra went up 9 percent, while Chantix went up by 7 percent and Sutent by 4 percent, CNBC reported.

Pfizer responded by saying it also lowered prices on five drugs by as much as 44 percent and most of its 400-drug portfolio didn’t grow more expensive.

Moreover, the company said, net prices of its drugs didn’t budge in the first quarter “due to the growing amount of rebates paid back to stakeholders in the biopharmaceutical supply chain.”

The rebates go to insurance companies and their contracted negotiators, pharmacy benefit managers, and the process is not transparent enough to tell how much actually reaches the patients.

Trump announced in May a plan to lower generic drug prices by, among other things, giving the government better tools to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries and scrutinize pharmacy benefit managers.

“Our plan will end the dishonest double-dealing that allows the middleman to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed on to consumers and patients,” Trump said.

Maris said on Tuesday that drug companies “are among the most profitable in the U.S. but something has got to give.”

“Consumers can’t give anymore,” he said, according to CNBC. “Now it’s time for the industry to figure out a way to either pay lower discounts and rebates and get those savings to consumers, but somehow the consumer has to get some relief. I think that’s what generated the president’s tweet today.”
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.