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What Pfizer’s Drug Price Hike Reversal Really Means

Yuval Rosenberg
Pfizer U.S. research jobs jeopardized by promises to UK for merger

After being publicly blasted by President Trump and then having an “extensive discussion” with him, drug giant Pfizer announced Tuesday that it will roll back the price hikes that took effect July 1. The reversal will last until the president’s new plan to lower drug prices is in place or until the end of the year, whichever comes first.

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

The announcement “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,” Reuters’ Yasmeen Abutaleb and Michael Erman noted.

But Axios’ Sam Baker threw some cold water on the celebration: “Pfizer is only deferring those price hikes, not canceling them. And it’s taking its products back to what they cost in June — a time when Trump was very much of the belief that the prices were too high.”

Why it matters: “The president’s pointed criticism of Pfizer, and the company’s abrupt about-face, suggest there may be limits to how much latitude the industry has on pricing even with an administration considered generally supportive” despite Trump’s complaints, The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan D. Rockoff writes, adding that the pricing pressure on the drug industry “may reward companies that have invested wisely in developing new drugs, especially those offering substantial improvements over current care that can command premium prices and quickly secure reimbursement.”

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