Senate panel to hold drug pricing hearing after delay

Senate panel to hold drug pricing hearing after delay
© Getty Images

The Senate Health Committee will hold a second hearing as part of the panel’s investigation into high cost drugs after the committee’s chairman delayed the hearing for months due to partisan fighting over ObamaCare repeal.

The committee will hold the hearing Oct. 17 at 10 a.m., according to a media advisory. The hearing is the second in a three part series that began in June.

Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Horse abuse for ribbons and prizes has to stop Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds MORE (R-Tenn.) was expected to hold the second session in July, but he delayed it because he was frustrated when Democrats used the first hearing to blast the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal effort.

Alexander has touted the hearings as bipartisan, but Democrats largely refused to participate in the first one.

Instead, they focused their statements on the fact that Republicans at the time were attempting to repeal and replace ObamaCare without holding any public hearings about it.

According to Alexander, the upcoming hearing will be a "deeper dive" into the prescription drug process “beginning with a manufacturer’s development of a drug, the different steps through which the drug travels before arriving in the patient’s hands, how this is paid for, and what the costs are at each of the different steps.”

The committee has invited representatives from the drug company’s largest lobbying group, PhRMA, as well as a group representing pharmacy benefit managers — middlemen groups that are increasingly being blamed by drug companies for benefitting from high prices.

Earlier this week, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said high drug prices are a “public health concern” and the agency will take action.

Congressional outrage over rising prescription drug costs has been a bipartisan concern, but the parties are divided over solutions and whom to blame.

Democrats want greater price controls and want to allow certain drugs to be imported from overseas. Republicans want to increase competition in the marketplace and encourage the development of generic alternatives.

So far, no bills have passed.

During his presidential campaign, President Trump railed against the pharmaceutical industry and its prices, saying they are “getting away with murder."