Cummings plans to call pharma executives to testify about drug costs

Cummings plans to call pharma executives to testify about drug costs
© Aaron Schwartz

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) said he plans to call drug company executives to testify when the House returns from recess in September.

Cummings made the announcement at the end of an emotional hearing Friday about the impact of high drug costs on patients.

"I want to tell you, this may make you feel some hope: We’re going to have the drug company folks sitting in the same seats as soon as we come back," Cummings told witnesses. "And we’re going to try to understand some of why they're doing what they're doing."

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A committee spokesperson did not have any details on which companies Cummings plans to invite or when the hearing will be scheduled. House lawmakers on Thursday held the chamber's last votes before a lengthy August recess.  

Rising drug prices have been a central concern for Cummings. The committee launched a wide-ranging investigation into high drug costs in January, and has examined documents obtained from drugmakers. But pharmaceutical executives have not yet testified.

In April, Cummings accused the panel's ranking member, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTrump's legal team gets set for impeachment trial Five lingering questions as impeachment heads to Senate Graham: Not 'wise' for House Republicans to serve on Trump trial team MORE (R-Ohio), of obstructing the investigation after Jordan and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsRepublicans criticize Pelosi for gifting pens used to sign impeachment articles Trump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers MORE (R-N.C.) warned a dozen different drug company executives that Cummings was conducting a partisan investigation, essentially telling them not to participate.

Drug company executives were grilled by Senate Finance Committee members earlier this year, as a prelude to the panel's drug pricing legislation, which was introduced this week. The executives blamed insurers and pharmacy benefit managers for high drug costs.