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As political pressure on the pharmaceutical industry builds, Merck has become the latest big drug maker to commit to halting price hikes.

In a brief statement, the company agreed not to increase the average net prices of its medicines by more than inflation annually, and then also dropped the wholesale — or list — price by 60 percent on its Zepatier hepatitis C treatment and lowered list prices by 10 percent on a half dozen other drugs. However, the extent to which its moves will actually be meaningful are being questioned.


Merck is not alone, in any event. After President Trump lambasted Pfizer for taking hefty price hikes earlier this month on more than 40 medicines, the company deferred the increases. On Wednesday, Novartis agreed not to raise prices in the U.S. for the rest of the year. And Gilead Sciences, Roche, and Novo Nordisk have reportedly begun to rescind or reduce some price hikes.

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