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Bipartisan Senate panel leaders ask 7 major drug companies to testify on their prices

Bipartisan Senate panel leaders ask 7 major drug companies to testify on their prices
© Greg Nash

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee on Monday invited seven major drug company CEOs to testify at a hearing later this month in what could become a tense confrontation over drug prices.

Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Loeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans MORE (D-Ore.) on Monday sent letters to the companies asking them to testify at a hearing on Feb. 26.

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Grassley, the chairman of the committee, has launched a series of hearings on drug pricing that are being closely watched to see if there is common ground that the parties can agree on to move legislation.

“This is an opportunity for companies that produce life-saving treatments to explain how they price these treatments and whether the status quo is acceptable,” Grassley and Wyden said in a statement. “Patients and taxpayers deserve to hear from leaders in the industry about what’s behind this unsustainable trend and what can be done to lower costs.”

Grassley said that he invited drug companies to testify at a hearing last week but that they refused. It remains to be seen if the companies refuse again. It is possible that lawmakers could subpoena the companies to force them to testify if they decline a second time to appear.

The hearing is sure to present some lawmakers with an opportunity to berate the drug company executives over their prices.

The companies invited are AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Pfizer and Sanofi.