Senate Health Committee Announces Hearing on Drug PricingBy
The US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) plans to hold a hearing on June 12, 2018 with Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, to examine President Donald Trump’s drug-pricing blueprint to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
Earlier in May 2018, President Trump highlighted components of a plan to address drug pricing by increasing drug competition. The plan includes speeding up the approval process for over-the-counter products, requiring price disclosures in commercials, and addressing patent protection. President Trump also discussed banning the so-called “pharmacist gag rule,” which allows health insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers to use their contracts to prevent pharmacists from telling their customers about less expensive ways to buy prescription drugs. He also discussed giving Medicare Part D plans new tools to negotiate lower prices for more drugs and making sure that Medicare Part D incentives encourage drug companies to keep prices low.
Earlier this week on May 30. 2018, President Trump alluded to other actions impacting drug pricing. Following signing into law the Right to Try legislation, which helps terminally ill patients access drug treatments that are yet to be fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), President Trump highlighted the progress his Administration is making on drug pricing and mentioned that additional news would be forthcoming. “…I think people are going to see, for the first time ever in this country, a major drop in the cost of prescription drugs… I think we’re going to have some big [news]— some of the big drug companies in two weeks. And they’re going to announce — because of what we did, they’re going to announce voluntary massive drops in prices.”
The June 12 hearing of the Senate HELP Committee will be the committee’s fourth in a series of hearings that the committee has held on drug pricing. The first hearing in June 2017 examined the path a prescription drug approved by the FDA takes from the manufacturer to patients and how this path affects what the patient pays. At a second hearing in October 2017, the committee heard from industry experts on what goes into the price of a drug. The committee held a third hearing in December 2017 to hear from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on a report it published on making medicine more affordable.