Takeda joins pharma peers in single-digit price-hike promise

Welcome to the price-pledge club, Takeda. Following in the footsteps of a handful of its pharma peers, the Japanese drugmaker has said it plans to keep its price increases in the single digits.

Takeda has been “reasonable” with its hikes “for many years” now, CEO Christophe Weber said at a briefing on the company’s third-quarter 2016 results Wednesday, as quoted by Reuters. And “we are very committed to single-digit price increase,” he added.

With that statement, Takeda becomes the fourth multinational pharma to promise a yearly ceiling on the list prices that have been rocketing skyward across the industry. Allergan skipper Brent Saunders was the first to kick things off with his company’s September “social contract” with patients, and he later urged his peers to do the same.

“Limit your price increases before we all face the impact of government regulation that stifles innovation and patient care,” he warned.

And at least a few of them have been listening. Novo Nordisk said in December that it would keep list-price increases to single-digit percentages each year, and AbbVie chief Rick Gonzalez announced at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that the Illinois drugmaker would raise prices just once this year, at an increment below the 10% mark.

Others—such as Merck, which released a Pricing Action Transparency Report last week—have laid out info showing their increases have been modest, without making any specific promises to keep them that way.

And yet other companies see no need to justify their strategies to consumers. Pfizer CEO Ian Read, for one, has argued that the total cost of drugs as a percentage of healthcare “has not changed in two decades,” and also that different business models are appropriate for different-sized players.

Meanwhile, though, Takeda will be looking to deals rather than price hikes to bolster its top line going forward. The company recently snapped up cancer drugmaker Ariad for $5.2 billion, and earlier this week, it inked a pact with Exelixis to develop and market renal cell carcinoma treatment cabozantinib in Japan.