HomeHealthDrug firm CEOs grilled about excessive U.S. drug costs : Pictures

Drug firm CEOs grilled about excessive U.S. drug costs : Pictures

Drug firm CEOs grilled about excessive U.S. drug costs : Pictures


Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Well being, Training, Labor, and Pensions Committee, pressed executives from Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck and Johnson & Johnson in regards to the costs they cost for medication within the U.S.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Photos


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Kevin Dietsch/Getty Photos


Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Well being, Training, Labor, and Pensions Committee, pressed executives from Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck and Johnson & Johnson in regards to the costs they cost for medication within the U.S.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Photos

Sparks flew on Capitol Hill Thursday because the CEOs of three drug firms confronted questions from the Senate Committee on Well being, Training, Labor and Pensions about why drug costs are a lot increased in the US than they’re in the remainder of the world.

The executives from Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and Merck spent virtually three hours in entrance of the committee going backwards and forwards about pricing practices and the way the businesses spend their cash.

“We’re all conscious of the numerous necessary lifesaving medication that your firms have produced,” stated a noticeably subdued Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Unbiased and the committee chairman. “That’s terribly necessary. However as all of you understand, these medication do nothing for anyone who can not afford it.”

Merck’s most cancers drug Keytruda prices $100,000 extra within the U.S. than it does in France, in response to a committee evaluation. Bristol Myers Squibb’s blood thinner Eliquis prices virtually 10 instances extra within the U.S. than in Germany. Johnson & Johnson’s arthritis drug Stelara prices 5 instances extra within the U.S. than it does in Japan.

Sufferers flip to GoFundMe

The executives made acquainted arguments that the U.S. pays extra for medication but in addition will get new medication quicker. The drugmakers additionally stated that middlemen known as pharmaceutical profit managers, or PBMs, take an enormous share of the listing costs for themselves.

“Their negotiating energy has elevated dramatically,” Merck CEO Robert Davis stated. “In contracting with them, Merck continues to expertise growing strain to supply even bigger reductions. And the hole between listing and internet worth continues to develop, and sufferers aren’t benefiting from the steep reductions we offer.”

Nevertheless, the legislators had been ready and sometimes shot again, as an example, that whereas medication take longer to get in the marketplace in Japan and Canada, as an example, that hasn’t harm these international locations’ life expectations. In truth, folks in Japan and Canada dwell longer, on common, than they do in the US.

Sanders requested Merck’s Davis if he had ever searched GoFundMe to see if anybody was making an attempt to lift cash to pay for Keytruda. He stated he hadn’t. Sanders stated his employees had.

“We’ve got discovered over 500 tales of individuals making an attempt to lift funds to pay for his or her most cancers therapies,” he stated. “And a kind of tales is a girl named Rebecca, the varsity lunch girl from Nebraska with two children who died of most cancers after organising a GoFundMe web page as a result of she couldn’t afford to pay for Keytruda. Rebecca had raised $4,000 on her GoFundMe web page, however stated the price of Keytruda in a most cancers therapy was $25,000 for an infusion each three weeks.”

Drama behind the scenes

The CEOs of Merck and Johnson & Johnson initially declined to testify. Sanders stated they advised his employees they did not have the experience to speak about drug pricing.

“Merck went as far as to inform our employees that their CEO is a tax lawyer who will not be an knowledgeable on prescription drug costs,” Sanders advised reporters on Jan. 25, calling the explanations firms supplied for declining to testify “laughable to absurd.”

The committee was about to vote on subpoenaing the CEOs once they agreed to testify voluntarily.

The commerce group PhRMA, which stands for Pharmaceutical Analysis and Producers of America, emailed a preemptive assertion Wednesday that stated evaluating drug costs within the U.S. to these overseas does not inform the entire story. The commerce group stated that new medicines launch earlier within the U.S. than in the remainder of the world, giving People quicker entry. It additionally pointed the finger at different excessive well being care spending and PBMs.

“Permitting overseas governments to affect U.S. costs will not repair America’s well being care system,” PhRMA wrote.

Senate report paperwork drugmakers’ monetary selections

Early this week, the HELP Committee launched a report that discovered Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and Merck spend extra on govt compensation, inventory buybacks and dividends than they do on analysis and growth.

“In different phrases, these firms are spending extra to complement their very own stockholders and CEOs than they’re to find new cures and new therapies,” Sanders reiterated in his opening assertion on the listening to. “Now, the common American who hears all that is asking a quite simple query. How does all of this occur? “

The report confirmed that these firms make more cash promoting their in style medication within the U.S. than promoting them in the remainder of the world mixed. The report additionally discovered that whereas some drug costs climb within the U.S., they go down or keep the identical elsewhere.



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