- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2018

President Trump, who recently predicted “voluntary, massive drops” in drug costs, accused a leading pharmaceutical company Monday of jacking up prices “for no reason” and taking advantage of American consumers.

Mr. Trump called out Pfizer, which this month raised the price of 100 of its drugs — including Viagra — despite the White House’s loud push to slash costs by tweaking Medicare and cracking down on “middlemen” who get bigger rebates from higher list prices, among other reforms.

The president did not say how the administration might retaliate, though the administration has characterized its drug-pricing proposal as an offer that companies shouldn’t refuse, to avoid more heavy-handed measures.

Mr. Trump has accused drug companies of “getting away with murder,” though he decided not to use the government’s authority under Medicare to directly negotiate down the cost of drugs. His health secretary — Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive — did say the idea was discussed, however.

Democrats say Mr. Trump reneged on a core campaign promise by shirking direct negotiation. They say the latest round of price increases, announced July 1, support their belief that Mr. Trump’s plan to cut costs is relatively toothless.

Pfizer’s stock price appeared to take a dive after Mr. Trump’s tweet, before rebounding.

In a statement, Pfizer said price changes affected a small slice of their business and that many consumers will feel no financial pain, due to rebates in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

“Our portfolio includes more than 400 medicines and vaccines; we are modifying prices for approximately 10 percent of these, including some instances where we’re decreasing the price. Importantly, list prices do not reflect what most patients or insurance companies pay,” the company said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump’s tweet suggests he might begin calling out drug companies individually, akin to his attacks on Harley-Davidson over his tariff war.

The company said that it’s moving some production to Europe to avoid the European Union’s retaliatory tariffs against U.S.-made motorcycles.

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