President Trump took to Twitter to express his disapproval of Pfizer’s recent price increases, a move that came only weeks after Trump announced that drugs manufacturers would offer voluntary “massive” price cuts in the near future.
“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,” Trump Tweeted, “We will respond!”
A number of Pfizer’s products have experienced an almost 20 percent price hike. For instance, the cost of a bottle of Pfizer’s glaucoma therapy, Xalatan, has risen from $89.38 to $107.05. In addition, Viagra, originally $73.85 at the beginning of the year, now has an $88.45 price tag.
Last week, Pfizer commented that the increases will not affect the majority of their medicines, and that the list prices don’t reflect what most patients or insurance companies pay. The company added, “We work to ensure access and advocate that most of the savings that insurers negotiate with drug companies get passed to patients to relieve their out-of-pocket burden.”
While Trump named Pfizer specifically, it is not the only company increasing prices. Acella Pharmaceuticals has increased the cost of 20 products, Acorda Therapeutics raised the price of Ampyra, the multiple sclerosis drug, by 9.5 percent, and Intercept Pharmaceuticals increased the cost of the liver treatment, Ocaliva, by seven percent.
According to data compiled by Elsevier‘s Gold Standard Drug Database, Bayer raised the price of its cancer drug Nexavar by 7.9 percent in late May, bringing the cost to $18,670 per month—a more than $1,000 increase for patients. Bayer’s Stibarga, another of the company’s cancer treatments, also rose 7.9 percent, bringing a bottle of 28 pills to $16,859 per month. Novartis, another pharma giant, has also raised prices of three cancer treatments, as well as its blood treatment drug Promacta.
John Rother, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care, commented on the administration’s attempts at lower costs, saying, “Bottom line, the bully pulpit and rhetoric alone are proving insufficient to affect bad behavior on prices. Congress and the administration need to take action.”
As Trump said Monday, the administration will respond, and many are standing by to see what form that response takes.