President Donald Trump refuses to stand by and observe as multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies gouge hard-working American consumers with unwarranted price hikes. On Monday, the president targeted Pfizer and other drug companies in an disparaging tweet, writing that they “should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason,” and momentarily sending their stock prices falling after promising: “We will respond!”
Responding to White House pressure, Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read called Trump the next day and agreed to delay planned price increases or lower costs on at least 40 drugs from their portfolio.
The people’s president
The Republican president was livid after a Financial Times report indicated that Pfizer raised prices on 100 of its products this month, including Viagra.
While they weren’t the only “big pharma” company to do so, Morgan Stanley noted that they were one of four major drugmakers to inflate prices twice in 2018.
Trump reacted with an incendiary tweet, roasting the company for giving Europeans price breaks while breaking the back of the American consumer. He resolved to take action, causing Pfizer’s stocks to fall by more than 1 percent before making up some of the losses in late-day trading.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
Trump followed up by having U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar call Read to discuss the situation, at which point the CEO asked to speak with the president. It only took 10 to 15 minutes for Trump to convince Read to halt increases and reduce prices on 10 percent of his company’s more than 400 products.
Less than 24 hours after his condemnatory tweet, Trump notified the American public that Pfizer was deferring it’s price hikes, writing on Twitter:
Just talked with Pfizer CEO and @SecAzar on our drug pricing blueprint. Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don’t pay more. We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
Pfizer’s decision to return pricing to pre-July 1 levels corresponds with the administration’s plan to reduce drug prices. The drugmaker agreed to keep prices settled until Trump’s pharmaceutical cost-saving blueprint has a chance to go into effect, or until the end of the year — whichever comes first.
In either case, one of the largest drug manufacturers in the country has voluntarily complied with the president’s drug pricing blueprint, something Trump forecasted when he unveiled the policy in May. As the midterm elections approach, the White House will be sure to emphasize Pfizer’s concession as a much-needed healthcare victory for Republicans.
Oh my, how things have changed
Trump’s strategy in the face of rising drug prices is markedly different from his predecessor. Then-President Barack Obama actually precipitated a 500 percent price markup of the life-saving EpiPen device by offering grants to public schools who stocked up on the allergy medication.
This allowed Mylan, the manufacturer of the autoinjectors, to corner the market and get away with multiple price increases between 2007 and 2016. As the public outrage grew from the unmitigated price hikes, Americans learned that Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) daughter was the CEO of Mylan, and the liberal lawmaker received over $100,000 in campaign contributions from the company.
Fortunately, things have changed in Washington in the last few years. Big pharma can no longer rely on a government who will look the other way as they slam patients with drug prices that are expanding 50 times faster than inflation.
Trump just won’t have it.