Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Bowing to Trump, Novartis Joins Pfizer

Bowing to Trump, Novartis Joins Pfizer
Bowing to Trump, Novartis Joins Pfizer in Freezing Drug Prices

Novartis, the Swiss drugmaker, said Wednesday that it might not raise prices on its products within us for the remainder of 2018, joining Pfizer, which delayed its increases last week after President Trump singled out the corporate for criticism.


Novartis’s chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, said during an earnings call with investors that the corporate had made the choice in June, amid escalating outrage over high drug prices.

“We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic the environment we’re currently in,” he said.


A spokesman for Novartis said the corporate notified the state of California, which features anew drug-price transparency law, of its decision in June, but the news wasn't widely known.


Novartis’s stock was trading at about $80 at midday on Wednesday, up 2.35 percent.


Pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to stem the groundswell of criticism over steep drug pricing, as elected officials and therefore the Trump administration has haunted the issue.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration released an in-depth plan and the proposal has generated quite 2,000 comments from a variety of interest groups that submitted their opinions before a federal deadline on Monday.


At a bill-signing in May, Mr. Trump said that major drug companies would, within two weeks, enact “voluntary massive drops” in prices, a press release that was met with puzzlement within the industry. The president’s prediction didn't materialize.


Last week, after reports that Pfizer was raising prices by nearly 10 percent on many products, including widely used drugs just like the pain reliever Lyrica, Mr. Trump slammed the company on Twitter.


The next day, Pfizer’s announcement that it might hold off on the worth increases was rewarded with a glowing presidential tweet, which concluded: “Great news for the American people!” Mr. Narasimhan didn't meet directly with Mr. Trump, but the corporate said it had been in touch with the Health and Human Services department over the administration’s plan to lower prices.


That department is headed by Alex M. Azar II, a former executive at the drugmaker Eli Lilly.


Novartis’s decision follows its entanglement with the administration over revelations inMay that the corporate paid $1.2 million to Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, MichaelCohen, as a political consultant.

Although Novartis previously said that it didn' ultimately believe Mr. Cohen’s services, a report released last week by Senate Democrats concluded the connection went deeper than the corporate had previously acknowledged.

Novartis has disputed that it misrepresented its relationship with Mr.Cohen.

The corporate has said it spoke to lawyers for the special counsel, Robert S.Mueller III, who is examining Russian interference within the 2016 presidential election, and that it considers its role therein investigation to possess ended.

Nevertheless, Mr. Narasimhan has sought to distance himself from the controversy, noting that Mr. Cohen was hired by his predecessor, Joe Jimenez, and describing the arrangement as a “mistake.”

In May, the corporate announced that its top lawyer, Felix R.Ehrat, was retiring over the difficulty.

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