Will Trump tweet on Pfizer cut short the pharma rally?

Pfizer Inc. Lyrica pills sit in a bottle at a pharmacy in Princeton Illinois U.S. on Monday Oct. 23 2017.        , Daniel Acker  Bloomberg

Pfizer Inc. Lyrica pills sit in a bottle at a pharmacy in Princeton Illinois U.S. on Monday Oct. 23 2017. , Daniel Acker Bloomberg

A tweet by US President Donald Trump slamming Pfizer and other pharma companies for raising prices of drugs at will sent Indian pharma shares reeling on Tuesday morning.

Pfizer is deferring the price increases it planned to take on some of its prescription drugs following a conversation between its CEO Ian Read and President Donald Trump.

"The company will return these prices to their pre-July 1 levels as soon as technically possible, and the prices will remain in effect until the earlier of when the president's blueprint goes into effect or the end of the year - whichever is sooner", Pfizer said in a statement. "And there's very little bidding on drugs", Trump said during an event at Trump Tower in NY.

Pfizer on Monday defended the price increases, saying they would not lead to a net increase in prices for consumers. We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Trump had promised to lower drug prices as part of his 2016 campaign, and he threatened to use the government's clout to negotiate lower prices. His comments appear to be motivated by a Financial Times piece stating that Pfizer raised their prices on 100 different drugs at the start of the month. Trump said in May that some drug companies would announce "voluntary, massive" price decreases in two weeks, though none have materialized yet. Those include Viagra, cholesterol drug Lipitor and arthritis treatment Xeljanz, according to Wells Fargo. List prices do not include rebates and discounts drugmakers may offer. The drug maker referred to an "extensive discussion" with Trump and explained the deferral is taking place to give him "an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the health care system and provide more access for patients".

Dean Mastrojohn, a Pfizer spokesman, said the company's "price list remains unchanged for the majority of our medicines". For example, a number of Democrats in Congress have complained that large companies have used big savings from last year's tax cuts to buy back stock in a way that benefits shareholders, rather than use the money to boost wages or cut prices.

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