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22 July 2018, 02:40 | Melissa Porter
Earlier this month, after the end of the period reflected in the disclosures, Pfizer made a decision to delay expected increases in drug prices after Trump tweeted the company was "merely taking advantage of the poor".
Merck became the first drugmaker to voluntarily lower the costs of several drugs after President Donald Trump called out the pharmaceutical industry for raising prices and failing to make healthcare affordable for patients, according to Reuters.
While the administration is quick to commend Merck's decision and to file it away as a win for their initiative, Merck did not cut the prices of any of its big sellers, like the cancer treatment Keytruda or the diabetes drug Januvia.
Zepatier had total USA sales of $771 million in 2017.
It also said it would not increase the average net price of other medicines in its portfolio of products by more than the inflation rate annually.
"If we look back at Merck's "net price increase" across portfolio in 2017, it was already meeting the criteria that Merck outlined today." he said.
Merck said Thursday evening that it would cut the cost of hepatitis C medicine Zepatier by 60% and would lower the cost of six other medications by 10%, including Prinivil (Lisinopril), Proscar (finasteride), Remeron (mirtazapine), Sinemet (carbidopa/levodopa), Sinemet CR (carbidopa/levodopa ER) and Trusopt (dorzolamide HCl).
Swiss drugmaker Novartis said on Tuesday it would not raise prices on its US products for the remainder of the year, following a similar move by Pfizer the week prior. He also threatened that the administration would "respond". He has not yet commented on Merck's announcement.
In May, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar published "American Patients First", a blueprint detailing plans to lower prices and out-of-pocket costs by lifting rules preventing government health programs from securing deep discounts and introducing incentives for drug-makers.
The cost of healthcare is expected to be a major campaign issue ahead of November midterm elections, with control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, both now controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, potentially up for grabs.
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