Executives from seven of US’s largest pharmaceutical companies are likely to testify next week before Senate Finance Committee to bring an end to the ongoing tussle between lawmakers and drug companies about setting drug prices in the country. The hearing is called “Drug Pricing in America : A prescription for change, Part II” is likely to be a showdown as now drug-makers are likely to face legislative action after years of setting up drug prices according to their whims within US without any fear of serious repercussions. Both the US Congress and President Trump have made it top priority to lower drug prices in the country.
The committee is being led by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Wyden of Oregon who argued that cost of prescription drugs now totals around $333 billion in 2017 stated that it is too high and the current rate of drug increase is unsustainable. But pharmaceutical firms argue that they are being blamed for the action of pharmacy benefit managers or middlemen that negotiate discount with them and are actually responsible for increasing the costs for prescription drugs. They argue that cuts of any kind on their prices will directly affect their profits and will hinder research and development of new treatment methods.
The hearing is likely to be contentious as Grassley tweeted that hopefully drug company executives do not blame others for the current predicament as they only have themselves to blame but they do not take responsibility for their actions and their role in fixing the price issue. Big pharmaceutical brands like AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Sanofi, AstraZeneca and Merck will be sending their CEO’s for the meeting while Johnson and Johnson will be sending group chairman Jennifer Taubert to attend the hearing. Grassley stated that he wants the drug-makers to say how they arrive at pricing for their drugs as Trump has asked Congress to ban “backdoor deals” that these firms have with middlemen.