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Required Reading for Tuesday’s Showdown Between Drug Manufacturers, Lawmakers

Seven pharmaceutical executives will testify before the Senate Finance Committee in a highly anticipated hearing

Prescription drugs
Julio Cortez/The Associated Press

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hear from seven drug manufacturers in the second of a series of hearings scrutinizing prescription drug pricing.

This marks the first time executives from the world’s largest drug companies appear before the committee as a group — but certainly not the first time the issue has been raised at the national level.

Witnesses include:

Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and chief executive officer, AbbVie Inc.

Pascal Soriot, executive director and chief executive officer, AstraZeneca

Giovanni Caforio, M.D., chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

Jennifer Taubert, executive vice president, worldwide chairman, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson

Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck & Co.

Albert Bourla, DVM, Ph.D., chief executive officer, Pfizer

Olivier Brandicourt, M.D., chief executive officer, Sanofi

Here’s what you need to know to get up to speed for Tuesday’s hearing, which can be watched live here:

  • Drug companies will likely try to point the finger elsewhere, such as to pharmacy benefit managers. As they currently operate, PBMs are part of the problem, but incentives throughout the system need to be restructured to better align with the interest of consumers, insurers, and pharmacy benefit managers: Are pharmacy benefit managers the good guys or bad guys of drug pricing?
  • As Kaiser Health News reports (via NPR), this is not a new problem. Sixty years ago, high drug prices were the subject of Senate hearings that included testimony from Merck, Pfizer, Schering, Bristol-Myers, Upjohn, SmithKline and American Home Products. Health policy scholars say the similar hearings show just how much unfinished business remains and how well drug companies have protected profits and limited regulation over the years.”: Senate Inquiry On Drug Prices Echoes Landmark Hearings Held 60 Years Ago