Novartis Becomes Second Pharma Company To Pull Back On 2018 Price Increases Recently, Pfizer was lambasted by President Donald Trump over its price hikes and announced it would roll them back. Novartis, which is dealing with a public relations crisis from its contact with Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, said it is following suit: “We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we’re currently in,” said Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan. The Wall Street Journal: Novartis Won’t Raise U.S. Drug Prices This Year Stat: Novartis Hits The Brakes On Price Hikes As Political Pressure Builds Trump has pressured drug companies to keep prices low, and met with Pfizer after it announced price increases for more than 100 drugs. After the meeting, Pfizer said it would hold off on increasing prices until the administration releases its drug pricing plan or the end of the year, whichever comes first. (7/18) Narasimhan is taking steps to try to strengthen the company’s ethics, manage risk and regain trust following revelations earlier this year that Novartis paid $1.2 million to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to try to gain insight into the administration’s health-care policy. An investigation led by U.S. Senate Democrats concluded last week that Novartis’s ties to Cohen were deeper than the drugmaker acknowledged. The CEO has been grappling with fallout over the contract, which drew the pharmaceutical giant into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. (Paton, 7/18) Reuters: Novartis Hints At 2018 Outlook Hike Despite Drug Price Freeze The Hill: Novartis Pulls Back On Planned Drug Price Increases Bloomberg: Novartis Joins Pfizer In Holding Line On Drug Prices In U.S. Mr. Narasimhan didn’t speak directly with Mr. Trump about pricing, the company said, adding it had been in contact with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the context of the administration’s blueprint to curb drug prices that was unveiled in May. (Mancini and Blackstone, 7/18) The New York Times: Bowing To Trump, Novartis Joins Pfizer In Freezing Drug Prices Novartis’s chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, said during an earnings call with investors that the company had made the decision in June, amid escalating outrage over high drug prices. “We thought that was prudent, given the dynamic environment we’re currently in,” he said. A spokesman for Novartis said the company notified the state of California, which has a new drug-price transparency law, of its decision in June but the news was not widely known. (Thomas, 7/18) Novartis may ratchet up its 2018 sales outlook, its finance chief said on Wednesday, despite halting planned U.S. drug price hikes amid pressure on the industry from President Donald Trump’s administration over the high cost of medicines. (7/18) In response to the heated political rhetoric over the cost of prescription drugs, Novartis has decided not to raise prices on its medicines in the U.S. for the rest of 2018. “When I looked at the policy environment in the U.S. with our team, we thought the prudent thing to do was to pull back on any further price increases in 2018 and evaluate as the environment evolves,” Novartis chief executive Vas Narasimhan told Bloomberg Television, shortly after the drug maker first disclosed its decision as part of its latest earnings report on Wednesday. (Silverman, 7/18) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.