On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hear from seven drug manufacturers in the second of a series of hearings scrutinizing prescription drug pricing.
This marks the first time executives from the world’s largest drug companies appear before the committee as a group — but certainly not the first time the issue has been raised at the national level.
Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and chief executive officer, AbbVie Inc.
Pascal Soriot, executive director and chief executive officer, AstraZeneca
Giovanni Caforio, M.D., chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Jennifer Taubert, executive vice president, worldwide chairman, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson
Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck & Co.
Albert Bourla, DVM, Ph.D., chief executive officer, Pfizer
Olivier Brandicourt, M.D., chief executive officer, Sanofi
Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed for Tuesday’s hearing, which can be watched live here:
- Congress has already heard from experts, including Arnold Ventures’ Vice President of Health Care Mark Miller, at two previous hearings. In those hearings, lawmakers were told that balancing innovation and affordability is possible, government-granted monopolies are driving up prices, and misaligned incentives in Medicare Part D are part of the problem. They were also told there is no silver bullet for reform and that a multi-pronged approach is needed: ‘I Deserve the Right to Live’: Key Takeaways from Ways and Means Hearing on Drug Prices and Five Takeaways from the First Senate Hearing on Drug Pricing
- President Trump has been calling for changes to the drug pricing system, and he hammered the point home in his 2019 State of the Union Speech when he called on lawmakers to take action: Trump’s 2019 State of the Union a Call for Bipartisanship on Health Care
- Also earlier this year, Arnold Ventures Co-Founders and Co-Chairs Laura and John Arnold spoke with NBC Nightly News about the broken drug market and how the industry has co-opted the political process: ‘This isn’t capitalism. This is a form of oppression.’
- Pressure from policymakers, reformers, and advocacy groups like Patients for Affordable Drugs and T1International has been effective at addressing the problem. On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee launched a bipartisan investigation against insulin makers for potential price collusion and anti-competitive behavior: Powerful Senate committee launches bipartisan probe into insulin pricing
- Drug companies will likely try to point the finger elsewhere, such as to pharmacy benefit managers. As they currently operate, PBMs are part of the problem, but incentives throughout the system need to be restructured to better align with the interest of consumers, insurers, and pharmacy benefit managers: Are pharmacy benefit managers the good guys or bad guys of drug pricing?
- As Kaiser Health News reports (via NPR), this is not a new problem. Sixty years ago, high drug prices were the subject of Senate hearings that included testimony from Merck, Pfizer, Schering, Bristol-Myers, Upjohn, SmithKline and American Home Products. “Health policy scholars say the similar hearings show just how much unfinished business remains and how well drug companies have protected profits and limited regulation over the years.”: Senate Inquiry On Drug Prices Echoes Landmark Hearings Held 60 Years Ago