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Senate hearing on the price of drugs: 6 takeaway

Seven pharmaceutical company executives, representing US $ 140 billion in revenue, testified before the Senate Finance Committee on February 26.

During the high stakes hearing, lawmakers asked senior executives to describe and defend their pricing strategies, which prevents them from sleeping at night and their thoughts on various drug reform bills.

Six points to remember and revealing moments of the hearing of nearly 3.5 hours:

1. Pharma blamed PBMs. Leaders of the pharmaceutical industry have repeatedly claimed that the directors of the benefits of pharmacies play an important role in high drug prices. Leaders said PBMs had strong bargaining power over drug manufacturers and often threatened to exclude drugs from formulary lists.

Senators agreed that PBMs would probably play a role, but Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the committee, said the highest prices were dictated by the drug makers themselves. He accused the drug makers of "procrastinating" by trying to reduce the importance of catalog prices.

Wyden told executives that the PBMs "would be spending their day" and that the Feb. 26 hearing focused on what drug companies could do to lower prices.

Drug sector officials also said that the discount system was a factor in the high price of drugs. During the hearing, Big Pharma largely supported the HHS rule project to reorganize the delivery system.

2. The drug manufacturers have come out unscathed. In Martin Shkreli, there were no infamous moments or remarks, such as at the 1994 hearings, in which lawmakers asked tobacco industry leaders to recognize their role in triggering violence. 39, a public health crisis. Instead, drug abusers have largely escaped legislators' attempts to shame them for unacceptable behavior.

In one case, the seven leaders said they had never blocked access to drug samples for generic drug manufacturers, STAT reports. However, an FDA database shows that Pfizer and AstraZeneca have been accused of doing so by generic drug companies.

Overall, the tone of the hearing was respectful and committee members barely winced when the executives blamed the other leaders in the sector, including MFIs and insurers.

February 25 Reuters The report warned that stocks of pharmaceuticals could lose audience, but that the seven have not moved, according to the report. The Wall Street Journal.

3. Another major argument of Big Pharma: medical innovation could be jeopardized. A large number of drug officials have warned lawmakers that any "outrageous solution" to lower drug prices could hamper industry innovation, according to a separate report from The Wall Street Journal. Other leaders have warned that "quick fixes" are also not the solution.

4. Big Pharma cares about its reputation. The chairman of the committee, Senator Chuck Grassley of R-Iowa, asked the leaders they considered "negative public opinion" when setting the price of drugs. The seven people responded with a resounding "yes", according to L & # 39; Atlantic. In other words, this means that drug manufacturers consider more than just administrative, research and development costs when pricing medicine.

5. Leaders admit that drug prices in the US are higher for a reason. One of the main arguments put forward by the legislators is that the price of drugs in the United States is much higher than in other economically similar countries. Mr Wyden asked the executives if they still realized profits on drugs sold in other countries, such as France or Germany. AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez admitted that they are still making money. After this exchange, Wyden accused him and AbbVie of "cheating" American consumers. Mr. Gonzalez added that the United States had "some of the highest prices in the world" and that "our system is based on a variety of prices around the world, but this global system supports our R model. & D ", according to L & # 39; Atlantic. In other words, if Americans were paying similar prices, drug makers could not afford to develop new drugs.

6. The drug manufacturers have sent the ball back to the legislator's side. "The government must act and change the rules," AstraZeneca president Pascal Soriot told parliamentarians, according to The Atlantic. Mr. Soriot's remark is a rare call for increased government regulation. However, this also suggests that drug manufacturers can not act to change anything, which is the responsibility of lawmakers to make changes.

More articles on pharmacy:
Point of view: it's time for the pharmaceutical industry to have its "tobacco moment"
Top 10 fatal or harmful prescription errors
The "Wacky" discount system to blame for high drug prices to patients, according to the FDA chief

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