When he found out that Pfizer had raised its prices on 100 drugs at the start of this month, President Donald Trump lashed out at the company for “taking advantage of the poor and others unable to defend themselves.”
His words, tweeted Monday, had a swift effect. The next day, Pfizer (PFE) did a u-turn—of sorts.
“Following an extensive discussion with President Trump today, Pfizer’s Chairman and CEO Ian Read announced that it will defer the company’s price increases that were effective on July 1 to give the president an opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system and provide more access for patients,” the company said in a statement.
The temporary price reversal will apply “until the earlier of when the president’s blueprint goes into effect or the end of the year,” Pfizer said.
The president is pleased.
This is far from the first time Trump has publicly laid into a company. Frequent targets include Amazon and media outlets such as the Washington Post and New York Times, while he has also gone after defense contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and Pfizer rival Merck (again over high prices).
It is notable that the Republicans are generally seen as friendlier than the Democrats when it comes to drug pricing, though that seems to have changed under Trump. Pfizer’s Read has long defended the industry’s pricing practices.
The White House released Trump’s blueprint for tackling the issue in May. However, a lack of detail left many skeptical about the chances of seeing big pharma companies voluntarily reduce their prices. Of course, what Pfizer just did falls short of a full-scale reversal—and it remains to be seen what the blueprint would actually mean in practice.