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Roche join Pfizer and others in price freeze while critics pose questions

Published on 23/07/18 at 10:54am

Swiss multinational Roche has joined Pfizer and others in halting price hikes. However critics have condemned the move as observers pointed out that the roll backs may be less meaningful than first impressions might suggest.

Roche joined Pfizer, Novartis and MSD in announcing that it would freeze prices in the United States until the end of 2018. However critics have noted that the pharmaceutical company increased the price of nine key drugs by an average of 3% on 1 July of this year.

Thus analysts have cast doubt on the extent to which the move is meaningful. Previously critics have suggested that MSD’s price reductions were deceptive, as hepatitis C drug Zepatier was revealed to have recorded no sales in the first quarter of this year, while the other six drugs on which prices were reduced are all already available as generics having lost their patents in recent years.  

In relation to Roche, who have already completed two price hikes this year, data from Bloomberg Intelligence suggested that the company would have been likely to increase prices on its medicines at the beginning of next year anyway. As such the price freeze, which will be in effect until the end of this year, would have little effect on the healthcare company’s pricing.

Nevertheless Roche’s July price increases were relatively modest at just 3% on average. Equally it has been predicted that Pfizer’s delays will see a total $200 million loss in sales this year. This loss however is but a small portion of Pfizer’s $54 billion in annual sales. Either way, the price freezes will likely have positive political impact on the Trump administration as the President claims his campaign against big pharma as another big win.

Louis Goss

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