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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