From L-R: Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato, Merck CEO Rob Davis and Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Chris Boerner testify in front of the Senate HELP Committee on Feb. 8, 2024 (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Sen­ate grills phar­ma CEOs, who emerge from hear­ing on drug prices large­ly un­scathed

For about three hours on Thurs­day, sen­a­tors pressed the CEOs of Mer­ck, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb and John­son & John­son on why US drugs cost so much. And for those three hours, the CEOs large­ly par­ried law­mak­ers’ ques­tions, stick­ing to their mes­sage of blam­ing PBMs and cit­ing the high cost of in­no­va­tion.

The CEOs were pep­pered with ques­tions about patent thick­ets, high launch prices and how much it costs to de­vel­op a drug. And they in turn re­peat­ed­ly steered the con­ver­sa­tion back to the in­dus­try’s chief ad­ver­sary in Wash­ing­ton: phar­ma­cy ben­e­fit man­agers who are be­ing tar­get­ed by a hand­ful of bills that seek to bring trans­paren­cy or changes to their busi­ness prac­tices. It’s a stance drug­mak­ers have tak­en time and again, us­ing the ar­gu­ment that list prices mat­ter far less than the re­bates and dis­counts — and what hap­pens to that mon­ey — that are a core part of their busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with PBMs.

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Life Sciences Senior Associate

General Catalyst

San Francisco, CA, USA