US Senate Holds Second Hearing on Drug Pricing

The US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a second hearing in a series of hearings to address prescription-drug costs.

Among the organizations testifying were the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), representing innovator-research-based pharmaceutical companies, and the Association for Accessible Medicines, representing the generic-drug industry. Other comments also came from the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, a national organization representing primary pharmaceutical distributors, and the American Pharmacists Association, a US-based society of professional pharmacists.

PhRMA’s Executive Vice President Lori Reilly addressed issues relating to pricing, rebates, discounts, and overall competition. “What’s happening today is those rebates and discounts often are not making their way back to patients at the point of sale….Those discounts should be passed back to patients to lower their healthcare costs,” Reilly said. “And last we need to speed the approval of new medicines as well as generic medicines to the marketplace. Competition is the best medicine to lowering costs over the long-term.”

The Association for Accessible Medicines’ President and Chief Executive Officer Chester Davis also highlighted the importance of drug competition. “That system [Hatch-Waxman] can only function if there is robust competition among buyers and sellers,” Davis said. “And that system can only work if generic companies can get the drug samples they need to do the pharmacovigilance and start the FDA application and approval process, which this committee has spearheaded efforts to accelerate and reform. And that system only works when generic medicines have the ability to enter the market when patents and other IP [intellectual property] protections are actually supposed to expire.”

Earlier this year in June 2017, the HELP committee held its first hearing to discuss prescription-drug pricing. In May 2017, a bill was introduced in the HELP Committee to address drug pricing, S.1131, the Fair Accountability and Innovative Research Drug Pricing Act of 2017, sponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ). Companion legislation in the US House of Representatives is sponsored by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

The Fair Accountability and Innovative Research (FAIR) Drug Pricing Act would require drug manufacturers to disclose and provide more information about planned drug-price increases, including research and development costs. Specifically, the FAIR Drug Pricing Act would require drug manufacturers to notify the US Department of Health and Human Services and submit a transparency and justification report 30 days before they increase the price of certain drugs that cost at least $100 by more than 10% in one year or 25% over three years.

Source: US Senate

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