Tale of 2 CEOs: Merck chief treads carefully on pricing, while Pfizer’s Read predicts more hikes | FiercePharma

Two Big Pharma CEOs have sounded off on drug pricing, and what a difference between the two. Merck’s Ken Frazier stayed in safe territory with his barbs against rebates, but Pfizer’s Ian Read touched off controversy by predicting a return to price hikes.

During separate sets of remarks this week, Frazier took a line that’s approved even by the price-fighting Trump Administration by criticizing the payer rebates that hack into net sales. Meanwhile, even after a public lashing from Trump on price hikes, Read said Pfizer’s ready to return to “business as normal” in 2019, indicating that price increases are likely on the way.

Speaking at the New York Times Dealbook conference, Frazier said pharma faces a unique challenge because it’s “the only part of healthcare where the prices are really transparent.”

Challenged on that statement by interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin, Frazier said drug list prices are “the only transparent thing in the whole” pharmaceutical pricing system. After Merck decides on a list price, the company has to offer up competitive rebates and discounts in order to win favorable formulary placement, and those are secret.

Across its U.S. portfolio, Merck is discounting its drugs by about 50% from list prices, Frazier said. That stat doesn’t illustrate, however, the differences in rebates on newer or more expensive drugs versus older and perhaps less expensive brands.

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Tale of 2 CEOs: Merck chief treads carefully on pricing, while Pfizer’s Read predicts more hikes | FiercePharma.