July 11,2018

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Wyden: Trump Must Prove Pfizer Price Hike Delay is More than Theatrics

Ranking Finance Democrat Calls on Administration and Massive Pharmaceutical Company Pfizer to Reveal Details of Special Agreement

Letters Come as Trump Administration “Blueprint” Falls Short of the President’s Promises and Other Companies Continue to Enact Double Digit Price Hikes

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today demanded additional details on the hastily-announced agreement between Pfizer, the president, and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, in which Pfizer pronounced they would delay price increases, “as soon as technically possible,” for only six months or less. The letters come as numerous pharmaceutical companies continue to announce double-digit midyear price increases.

“Secret, sweetheart arrangements with pharmaceutical companies are exactly why America’s drug pricing system is broken,” Wyden said. “Instead of proposing meaningful changes that result in lower costs for families and taxpayers, Trump and his Administration are busy scoring cheap PR points that don’t address the fundamental challenges that lead to higher prices every year. Americans want to know when real change is coming to lower their costs at the pharmacy counter – yesterday’s announcement was more of the same.

In letters to Secretary Azar and Pfizer CEO Ian Read, Wyden asked for the two parties to share with the public what was agreed to, when the price delays will actually go into effect, when details could be expected, and whether other pharmaceutical companies could expect similar treatment.

Wyden also asked the Administration to explain how this agreement is not a violation of the federal non-interference clause that prohibits HHS and Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug manufacturers. Wyden has advocated for congressional action to allow Medicare to negotiate, as has the president, but it was omitted from the president’s official drug pricing blueprint.

The letter comes as drug manufacturers begin to announce their midyear price increases and the president has still not followed through on his promise to curb price gouging from drug companies he claimed are “getting away with murder.” For example, Acorda Therapuetics increased the price of their multiple sclerosis drug Ampyra at the beginning of July by just under 10 percent, bringing the costs of a bottle of 60 pills to more than $3,000. Bayer Pharmaceuticals also increased the price of two cancer drugs, Stivarga and Nexavar, by 13 percent not more than two weeks after President Trump released the Administration’s blueprint on prescription drugs. 

The letter to Secretary Azar can be found here.

The letter to Pfizer can be found here.