Merck lowers drug prices after Trump criticizes industry

Merck became the first drugmaker to voluntarily lower the costs of several drugs after President Donald Trump called out the pharmaceutical industry for raising prices and failing to make healthcare affordable for patients, according to Reuters.

The New Jersey-based drugmaker will slash its hepatitis C treatment Zepatier by 60 percent and will lower the list price of six other drugs by 10 percent. In addition, Merck said it would not increase the average net price of other medications by more than the inflation rate.

"This decision [by Merck] is a response to President Trump's blueprint and reflects the industry's understanding that the president is serious about bringing change to our drug markets," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Merck is the latest drugmaker to change its pricing strategy after President Trump tweeted that the pharmaceutical industry "should be ashamed" that it is increasing prices.  After the tweet, Pfizer, the largest drugmaker in the U.S., said it would delay its price hikes until the end of the year or until the president's drug-pricing plan goes into effect.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis also announced it would freeze price hikes in the U.S. for the rest of the year.

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