Pharmaceutical industry CEOs face Senate hearing on drug prices

Pharmaceutical industry executives will face questioning Tuesday at a Senate hearing on the rising cost of medicines. Scheduled to testify before the Senate Finance Committee are CEOs from AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sanofi. Johnson & Johnson is sending an executive who oversees its drug division.

Pharmaceutical industry executives will face questioning Tuesday at a Senate hearing on the rising cost of medicines. Scheduled to testify before the Senate Finance Committee are CEOs from AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sanofi. Johnson & Johnson is sending an executive who oversees its drug division. Members of the Senate Finance Committee are expected to question the executives on their pricing practices and how the companies can reduce costs for patients. The business leaders are also likely to face questions about their strategies to fight off cheaper generic alternatives. The hearing could inform bipartisan legislation this year to target high drug prices. When senators ask about high list prices for drugs, the executives are expected to respond by saying the prices are not meaningful because they do not include discounts and rebates that companies give to PBMs in order to gain plan coverage, says Ira Loss, senior health care analyst at research firm Washington Analysis. Industrywide, net prices have been falling as list prices rise, according to data from SSR Health. Few patients pay "list" prices, but some pay the full price at times, such as when they have not met their deductible.