Facing pressure from Trump, another drug manufacturer drops price hikes

Novartis, one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, has paused any price hikes on its drugs for the remainder of 2018.

The move, which was announced during the company’s second quarter earnings call on July 18, follows another major drug-maker’s decision to also temporarily halt increasing drug prices. Pfizer, after facing criticism from President Donald Trump, also backed down on its previously announced plan to raise the price of some of its drugs by an average of 9 percent.  

The changes come as manufacturers face mounting pressure over drug prices. The Trump administration recently rolled out its blueprint to lower drug prices, American Patients First, outlining wide-ranging goals.

"We looked in June at the overall situation, the blueprint coming out, and made the decision prior to some of the recent events that we were going to withdraw any further price increases and make a commitment internally that we are not going to take any further price increases for the remainder of 2018,” Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said during the earnings call Wednesday.

Trump, who has vocalized his discontent for drug-markers when they raise prices, applauded the move via Twitter.

"Thank you to Novartis for not increasing your prices on prescription drugs. Likewise to Pfizer. We are making a big push to actually reduce the prices, maybe substantially, on prescription drugs,” he tweeted Thursday.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar also weighed in on Novartis’ announcement.

“Novartis halting its prescription drug increases is a step in the right direction and a win for American patients,” Azar said in a tweet.