On Tuesday, Trump said in a tweet that Pfizer had agreed to roll back drug price hikes after he and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke with the company's CEO, Ian Read. "Great news for the American people", Trump wrote.
Although Trump had vowed to take on the pharmaceutical industry during his race to the Oval Office, as Bloomberg noted Monday, "so far his most-noticed efforts have been using Twitter and stump speeches to call out pharmaceutical companies, rather than enacting major new policies". That gives Trump, who made lowering prescription drug prices a top 2016 presidential campaign issue, a short-term victory he can point to in the run-up to the elections, which are being closely watched to see if Trump's fellow Republicans will be able to maintain control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The agreement is a bit of egg-on-the-face for Read, but he may accomplish one thing for the moment: remove some of the pressure on the pharmaceutical industry as a whole to cut prices., since Trump appeared to be ratcheting up the pressure on companies.
"We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same", Trump said in a tweet.
"The list price remains unchanged for the majority of our medicines". Those include Viagra, cholesterol drug Lipitor and arthritis treatment Xeljanz, according to Wells Fargo. The list price hikes don't factor in discounts that companies may provide to some insurance companies and patients.
Although many drug makers traditionally raise prices mid-year, Pfizer stood out last week for two reasons - the price hikes were for dozens of drugs and the actual increases were particularly large.
"I can imagine [Trump] is going to be very interested in the next company that takes a price increase not justified by inflation or change in clinical benefit", Azar said during the rollout of the pricing blueprint in May. For example, in August past year he criticized Merck & Co., saying the company was shipping jobs outside of the US while raising prices.
In a statement, the company said that it "shares the President's concern for patients and commitment to providing affordable access to the medicines they need".