Last month, President Trump said pharmaceutical companies would voluntarily participate in a "massive price drop."
The drug giant is hiking prices of its drugs by an average of 9% as of July 1. Paired with the company's January price hike of an average of 10%, Pfizer has sent drug prices about 20% higher this year, essentially ignoring pressure from the Trump administration to make prescription drugs more affordable.
The company confirmed the price increases and responded to TheStreet's request for comment with an email statement from spokesman Dean Masterjohn: "The list price remains unchanged for the majority of our medicines. We are modifying prices for about 10 percent of our medicines, including some instances where we're decreasing the price."
The company noted that list prices aren't necessarily what patients pay for medications and that the company has programs to help some patients with the costs of some drugs.
The Financial Times noted that Pfizer dropped the price of five of its products over a range of 16% to 44%.
Pfizer makes a wide variety of drugs including erectile dysfunction medication Viagra, smoking cessation drug Chanix, glaucoma eyedrops Xalatan and Lyrica pain medication.
Drug pricing was a campaign issue in the 2016 presidential election, with candidate Trump pledging to get tough with pharma companies and bring prices down. But since taking office, Trump has failed to make a dent in rising prices.
In his State of the Union address in January, Trump said, "One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down."
The administration rolled out a series of ideas on how to make the pharmaceutical sector more competitive, with most of the ideas aimed at getting generics to market faster, and shaming drug companies for interfering with that process. One idea being studied by the FDA is to require drug companies to include their list price for drugs that are advertised on TV as part of direct-to-consumer commercials.
For the most part, the drug pricing debate has ended up in a finger-pointing contest with drug companies blaming pharmacy benefit managers and insurance companies for rising prices, and those players returning the favor. It should be noted that the debate doesn't seem to bother investors much, with share prices for most major drug companies having trended up since the Trump administration rolled out its plans to knock down drug prices.
The news that Pfizer prices have gone up didn't have much of an effect on share price, as the stock opened at $36.39 the day before the Fourth of July, and it was trading at $36.35 following the news. Over the last year, shares are up 7.5%.
The Pew Charitable Trusts are currently championing a proposal in which states would tax drug companies on increases in drug prices. The Trusts point to the lack of success at the federal level in controlling price hikes by suggesting that states have the power to assign taxes on drugs that are sold within the state. The idea is that any increase that is above the rate of inflation would draw a tax, and that pharma companies would abandon large price increases.
Pfizer can't seem to stay off the hot seat. The company also garnered headlines this week after the Food and Drug Administration sent it a warning letter after it reviewed the company's direct-to-consumer video for its vaginal ring Estring. The regulator said it believed the video presented incomplete information about the risks of the drug. In the video, a doctor and patient played by Pfizer spokespeople discuss the drug but do not note the risks that include breast and endometrial cancer. The drug carries a box warning.
The agency gave the company until July 3 to either present a plan to pull the video or explain why the agency is wrong about the video. Steve Danhey, director of global corporate relations for Pfizer, said that the company had submitted its response to the FDA last week.