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Trump thanks Novartis, the second drug company to bow to his pressure on price increases

A building on the campus of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis.
A building on the campus of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump on Thursday praised Novartis, the second pharmaceutical company in as many weeks to pull back planned price increases in the United States amid public pressure from the president.

The Swiss drug maker announced Wednesday that it would hold the line on U.S. prices for the rest of the year, a move that followed a similar decision by rival Pfizer to delay planned increases for some medicines.

“Thank you to Novartis for not increasing your prices on prescription drugs,” Trump said in an early morning tweet. “Likewise to Pfizer. We are making a big push to actually reduce the prices, maybe substantially, on prescription drugs.”

In response to a congressional inquiry, Novartis said it planned to raise the prices of some drugs this year.

President Trump said “Drug companies frankly are getting away with murder,” while talking about prescription drug prices being “out of control." (Video: The Washington Post)

During an earnings call with investors on Wednesday, the company’s chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, said it would reverse course.

“We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we’re currently in,” he said on the call, according to multiple reports. Narasimhan said the company wants the cost of its medicines to be both “reasonable” and “defensible.”

Pfizer buckles under pressure from Trump, delays drug price increases

Last week, Pfizer chief executive Ian Read said his company would delay increasing the prices of dozens of drug products after Trump publicly berated the firm one day earlier.

The company, in a statement, said the price increases would effectively be postponed at least until the beginning of 2019 “to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system and provide more access to patients.”

Pfizer moved on July 1 to raise the prices on 41 drug products. That prompted a tweet by Trump saying the company should be “ashamed” and promising an unspecified response.

Damian Paletta contributed to this report.