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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 GrassleyChuck Grassley 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats seek new ways to expand Medicaid in holdout states Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks 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.