CEOs from Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders, on the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. The hearing continued the dialogue on why American drug prices significantly exceed those in other countries. Despite threats of subpoenas, the CEOs attended, echoing familiar justifications that high prices are necessary for innovation and covering the massive research and development costs. They also highlighted the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in affecting drug prices and defended their companies’ patient assistance programs. However, critics, including lawmakers and medical professionals, argued that these programs are insufficient and called for more transparency and reform in drug pricing and PBM practices. The discussion underscored the ongoing debate over the pharmaceutical industry’s responsibility for the high cost of drugs and the search for solutions to make medications more affordable for Americans.
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[Source: MM+M, February 9th, 2024]