Drug Corporations Fail to Justify Prescription Drug Prices at Senate Hearing

Seven pharmaceutical corporation executives testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday about the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States. They could not, however, explain why prices were so much more expensive in the United States compared to other developed countries, instead offering excuses and “solutions” that did everything but lower costs for the consumer.

The executives largely justified the prices, claiming that prices reflected investment in research and development, patents and marketing costs. Richard Gonzalez -- CEO of AbbVie, which produces the arthritis and Crohn’s disease medication Humira -- denied that the drug’s 130 patents prevented the development of a generic option. Sen. John Cornyn (TX) disputed the claim at length.

At one point Mr. Gonzalez acknowledged that the United States has some of the highest prices in the world. Sen. Ron Wyden(OR), the ranking member on the committee, then asked, “How is that not gouging American consumers with high prices?”

One particularly outrageous statement was made by Kenneth Frazier, chief executive of Merck. He said that prices were lower in Europe because walking away from negotiations with those countries would be “immoral,” leaving patients there without access to medications. The statement was part of a revelationthat charging Americans more for the same products is baked into their companies’ pricing systems.

Cutting prices would sacrifice industry innovation, claimed Frazier, and government price controls simply wouldn’t do enough, according to Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (IA) promised that Congress would respond to the drug price problem in an  “effective way.”

“Drug corporation executives proved that they have zero qualms about outrageously over-charging Americans,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “We urge Congress to make good on their promise to help retirees and all Americans by making medicines more accessible. We can start by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices.”

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll out today shows large majorities of Americans from both major parties support steps to control prescription drug costs such as removing barriers to generics and allowing patients to get less expensive drugs from Canada. By a 9-to-1 ratio, Republicans, Democrats and independents favor making drug companies show list prices in their advertising.



Petition: Tell Your Representatives to Keep their Promise to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

“We are only two months into 2019, and prescription drug prices have already increased at three times the rate of inflation this year,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Drug corporations will not put patients ahead of profits unless they are forced to -- and they are spending millions to try to influence Congress to do nothing.”

Members of Congress repeatedly pledged to take action to lower drug prices. We need to hold them to their commitments and tell them it is time to take decisive action.

Members of Congress repeatedly pledged to take action to lower drug prices. We need to hold them to their commitments and tell them it is time to take decisive action.

Sign this petition to urge your representatives to take steps to lower prescription drug prices. Americans shouldn’t have to wait any longer.

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