Swiss, German drugmakers join U.S. price freeze

European drugmakers Roche, Bayer and Merck KGaA became the latest companies to freeze prices in the U.S. for the rest of 2018 following criticism by President Trump over the cost of medicine.

Roche did boost U.S. prices for nine key drugs by an average of 3 percent on July 1, but said it would hold off additional increases as discussions with the Trump administration continue over a longer-term solution to containing healthcare costs.

The European announcements on Friday follow similar moves from Novartis, Pfizer and U.S. drugmaker Merck.

Some analysts doubted such freezes would have much overall impact, however, since the companies’ pledges may take them out of Trump’s immediate firing line while still leaving leeway to resume increases in 2019.

Trump made lowering prescription drug prices a top 2016 presidential campaign issue and has criticized drugmakers for raising prices, saying in a tweet this month that they “should be ashamed”.

“Last week on July 11, we communicated to the U.S. Department of HHS that we will not be taking any price increases for the remainder of the year,” Switzerland’s Roche said in a statement on Friday.

“We take decisions related to the prices of our medicines very seriously and our commitment to patient access and investment in future breakthroughs are reflected in our actions.”

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