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Pfizer to deliver pricing ultimatum in France
Pfizer is set to demand higher drug prices in France, on the threat of withholding new treatments from the market. The threat comes against a background of growing price controls in France, and increasing resentment from industry leaders, including Pfizer CEO Hank McKinnell. The US-based company argues that price negotiations are delaying the introduction of new treatments onto the market, to the detriment of patients and the industry. Mr McKinnell said: "These talks can take two to three years longer in France than in any other country." The company is looking for support from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, and a meeting between Pfizer and France's prime minister Lionel Jospin is now set for the new year. AstraZeneca's chief executive Tom McKillop made similar remarks about price controls in Japan, saying the company would lose money if it launched its respiratory product Symbicort in Japan. Adding to the Pfizer chief's remarks he said: "Europe has got to get its act together. I think all the major pharmaceutical companies are making decisions not to launch products." The companies say the US market, relatively free of price controls, had rewarded the industry's R&D efforts. However, recent disputes over the anthrax treatment Cipro and its US patent has stimulated greater debate on prices in the States.