Despite pressure from United States President Donald Trump to reign in the cost of escalating drug prices, Pfizer announced on Friday plans to raise the costs of 41 separate medications.
Effective in January, ten percent of Pfizer’s overall drug portfolio will see cost increases of as much as nine percent. Three drugs will only increase by three percent while the rest will go up five percent.
This move by the pharmaceutical giant is a reversal of last July’s action, in which Pfizer repealed plans to increase prices after Trump and his White House pressured the industry to lower their costs to consumers. In addition to Pfizer, drug companies Merck and Novartis also froze their prices in an attempt to appease the current administration. However, many other drug companies surged forward with incremental drug price increases.
Trump has made reducing the cost of medications for Americans one of his policy change priorities during the course of his first term. Last May, the White House presented a 44-page document detailing how they wanted to increase competition while providing incentives for drug companies to lower rates and pass them along to consumers. A revamp of Medicare drug prices was also central to this master plan.
With Friday’s announcement, Pfizer also said that the price increases will be offset by more discounts and rebates for insurance companies and pharmacies. Pfizer believes that these entities will pass the incentives and discounts along to their customers so that direct patient costs are not as affected by the increase.
The Department of Health & Human Services responded to Pfizer’s announcement by saying that the White House will continue to make lowering drug costs a main priority heading into the new year. As one of the few areas that both parties of Congress can agree on, the issue is expected to take center stage in 2019 as lawmakers work to find a compromise that will benefit the pocketbooks of all Americans.