Senate Finance Committee: “Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part III”
Tuesday, April 9, 2019: The Senate Finance Committee continued its drug pricing series by inviting pharmacy benefit manager companies (PBMs) to testify before the committee. The invitation was extended on March 12 to Cigna, CVS Caremark and CVS Health, Humana, OptumRx and Prime Therapeutics. The hearing was rescheduled to April 9 due to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s joint address to Congress on the original date, April 3. Find a link to witness testimonies, member statements and the hearing live feed here.
Why this is important: Executives from CVS, Humana and Prime Therapeutics said they would back a bill banning spread pricing, while OptumRx took no position. Cigna said the company would support an industry standard. The executives also said they were open to more transparency, such as having advisory bodies to Congress examine their way of doing business, so long as confidential information is kept from the public. Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made it clear that the hearings are not meant to regulate the PBMs out of business.
House Ways and Means Committee: Markup of Prescription Drug Pricing Legislation
Tuesday, April 9, 2019: The House Ways and Means Committee held a markup last week on a bipartisan bill aimed at lowering drug prices. The legislation was passed by the committee 40-0. Find legislative text, including recorded amendments and votes here.
Why this is important: The committee unanimously passed the bipartisan Prescription Drug STAR Act (H.R. 2113) which requires price transparency from drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), despite voting for the bill, criticized the measure for not going far enough. The bill requires drug manufacturers to justify price hikes and high launch prices and orders the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study on Medicare Part A drug costs, make HHS publish aggregate rebates and price concessions negotiated by PBMs on a public website and push drug manufacturers to submit information to HHS on the average sales prices for drugs in Medicare Part B.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce: “Priced Out of a Lifesaving Drug: The Human Impact of Rising Insulin Costs (Second Hearing)”
Wednesday, April 10, 2019: The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing to address the consequences of rising insulin costs. This will be the second hearing on the rising prices of insulin. Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, the only three companies that manufacture insulin in the United States, testified about their pricing practices. In March, Lilly reported that the net price of Humalog, a fast-acting insulin taken before meals, decreased in price by 8.1 percent over the previous five years. The price fell to an average of $135 a month per patient, from $147 in 2014. Over the same time, the average list price of Humalog increased 52 percent from $391 to $594. Find a link to witness testimonies, member statements and the hearing live feed here.
Why this is important: House Energy & Commerce Oversight Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) said she hopes to have bipartisan legislation ready by July or September of this year to make insulin affordable. At the hearing drug manufacturers present did not take responsibility for increased prices, but said they are forced to raise list prices to compensate for the growing rebates demanded by PBMs. The PBMs disagreed, arguing the real reason for the rising costs is the high list prices set by drug manufacturers along with the lack of generic alternatives. Members of the subcommittee were united on the need for taking action, but specifics were not outlined.
- Grassley, Wyden Push HHS to Investigate PBMs’ Spread Pricing
- Sanders Reintroduces Medicare for All Bill, Receives Criticism
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