Pfizer reverses some drug price hikes

New York (AFP) –


Pfizer has reversed price increases on some drugs following White House pressure and the US drugmaker on Wednesday pledged to decide soon whether to sell its consumer drugs business.

The pharmaceutical giant said it would reverse price increases that took effect July 1. The move came a day after President Donald Trump threatened action on drug prices, saying on Twitter that Pfizer and others who lifted prices should be "ashamed."

In a news release late Tuesday, Pfizer said drug prices would return to their levels of prior to July 1 and would stay at that price until the end of the year, or the enactment of Trump's "blueprint" on drug prices.

"Pfizer shares the President's concern for patients and commitment to providing affordable access to the medicines they need," said Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Ian Read.

Pfizer had hiked prices on Viagra and some 100 other drugs by more than nine percent, according to a Financial Times article earlier this month.

The Trump administration in May outlined a plan for lower drug prices but critics have said it does not go far enough.

Shares of leading pharma companies rose the day the plan was announced, suggesting investors did not view the plan as a significant worry to industry profits.

Shares of Pfizer dipped 0.4 percent to $37.29 in morning trading on Wednesday. Other leading drugmakers including Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb were off by similar amounts.

Pfizer also announced Wednesday it would reorganize the company into three divisions instead of two: innovative medicines, established medicines for legacy and generic products and consumer healthcare, which will comprise over-the-counter drugs.

Pfizer said in October it was considering a possible sale or spin-off of the consumer healthcare business but some news reports have chronicled difficulties with reaching a transaction.

Pfizer said it was expected to make a decision on the consumer healthcare business in 2018, reiterating a timeframe it had previously laid out.