Top biotech investor says Trump's criticism of Pfizer is scaring drug companies from raising prices

  • Sarissa Capital Management chief investment officer Alex Denner believes President Donald Trump’s criticism of Pfizer is having an impact on how other companies set their prices.
  • “By putting pressure on one particular company, I think all the companies are saying: We don’t want to be Pfizer,” Denner said at the Delivering Alpha Conference.
  • Trump bashed Pfizer and other drugmakers for raising the price of 104 different drugs, arguing that such companies “should be ashamed” for the hikes.
Alexander J. Denner, Founding Partner and CIO, Sarissa Capital Management 
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Alexander J. Denner, Founding Partner and CIO, Sarissa Capital Management 

Sarissa Capital Management chief investment officer Alex Denner believes President Donald Trump’s criticism of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is having an impact on how other companies in health care set their prices.

“By putting pressure on one particular company, I think all the companies are saying: We don’t want to be Pfizer,” Denner said in an exclusive video for CNBC PRO . “Even if they maybe raise prices in a different way – if they typically raise prices in a different way or do it on a different subset of products, they’re going to be thinking twice.”

The investor’s comments came less than 10 days after Trump bashed Pfizer and other drugmakers for raising the price of 104 different drugs, arguing that such companies “should be ashamed” for the hikes. For its part, Pfizer raised the price of 41 drugs by as much as 9 percent, though it also lowered prices on five drugs by as much as 44 percent.

In a statement, Pfizer defended itself and argued that the price adjustments only affected a minor portion of the company’s extensive portfolio of treatments. The company's stock fell 0.2 percent Monday, but is up 2.9 percent since January; the S&P 500 is up 5 percent year to date.

"Our portfolio includes more than 400 medicines and vaccines; we are modifying prices for approximately 10 percent of these, including some instances where we’re decreasing the price," Pfizer said in a statement. "Importantly, list prices do not reflect what most patients or insurance companies pay.”

Denner, a Carl Icahn protege, is known for his shareholder activism in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Through Sarissa, he currently has active stakes in Biogen, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and The Medicines Company.

Sarissa oversees $535 million in assets under management according to its latest Form ADV filing.

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