"The President and his Administration look forward to continuing its work with Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies to reform the policies that are driving up prescription drug prices for all Americans", said Hogan Gidley, deputy White House press secretary.
Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan said that he did not have a direct talk with Trump on drug prices but said his company has been speaking to the federal Department of Health and Human Services about Trump's plan. "Right now, in a very dynamic environment in the United States ... we view it as the prudent course". "A lot of discussions around how to shape policy, and of course, our net prices overall are flat-to-declining in the USA in any case", added Narasimhan.
The move by Merck comes after Pfizer announced price hikes for almost three dozen drugs only to reverse course amid public pressure from President Donald Trump.
Recently, Pfizer was lambasted by President Donald Trump over its price hikes and announced it would roll them back. Amid Merck CEO Ken Frazier's withdrawal from Trump's manufacturing council, Trump tweeted that the move would give Frazier more time to "LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"
The recent price freeze statements were very well received by the president, who used the same social media channel to applaud drug makers. Trump has promised to lower drug prices since the campaign and as is his style, has resorted to calling out companies by name on Twitter after reports of price increases. "Likewise to Pfizer. We are making a big push to actually reduce the prices, maybe substantially, on prescription drugs", Trump said in a Thursday tweet.
The New Jersey-based drugmaker will slash its hepatitis C treatment Zepatier by 60 percent and will lower the list price of six other drugs by 10 percent.
However the price cut may also be motivated by the increasingly competitive hepatitis C drug market - sales of Zepatier slumped in the last quarter. For context, Merck brought in $8 million in U.S sales during just the first quarter from its statin Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin), which went generic in the beginning of 2017.