Pfizer to Postpone Some Drug Price Increases, After Criticism From Trump

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WASHINGTON — Pfizer, the giant multinational drug company, said on Tuesday that it would defer some price increases, after President Trump thrashed the company in a Twitter post.

The company — whose products include Celebrex, Lipitor, Premarin, Viagra and Zoloft, as well as Ibrance, a breast cancer treatment that costs about $10,000 a month — retreated one day after Mr. Trump’s tweet.

“Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday. “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!”

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump said he was pleased to see the company backtracking.

“Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don’t pay more,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!”

At a bill-signing ceremony on May 30, Mr. Trump said major drug companies would, within two weeks, announce “voluntary massive drops in prices.” But until now, there was scant evidence of drug price cuts, and some companies continued to raise prices, seemingly oblivious to the president’s words.

Ian C. Read, the chairman and chief executive of Pfizer, said he had “an extensive discussion with President Trump” on Tuesday. As a result, he said, Pfizer will roll back price increases that took effect on July 1.

David Mitchell, the founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, a nonprofit advocacy group, applauded the move, but said it was just a start.

“President Trump took Pfizer to the woodshed, and that’s good,” he said. “There are other companies that have also increased prices in recent months that could also use a whupping. But one-off trips to the woodshed do not fix the systemic problems we have with drug prices.”

In a Rose Garden speech two months ago, Mr. Trump unveiled a “blueprint to lower drug prices,” which included many regulatory and legislative proposals and some vague notions about how to rein in drug costs.

Mr. Read said Pfizer was postponing its price increases “to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint” and to “provide more access for patients.”

He said the higher prices would revert to the levels in effect last month and would stay there until “the president’s blueprint goes into effect or the end of the year, whichever is sooner.” The price freeze is likely to last six months, as the president’s most important proposals will probably require months of debate and deliberation.

“Pfizer shares the president’s concern for patients and commitment to providing affordable access to the medicines they need,” Mr. Read said.

He said the world was entering a “new era with scientific advances that will result in future breakthroughs and cures.”

But some of the most promising and effective new treatments are also among the most expensive — a fact that scares many consumers, insurers and employers who help pay the bills.

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