[Ip-health] U.S. Senate: Drug prices too high

Ellen Shaffer ershaffer at cpath.org
Sun Dec 20 11:08:52 PST 2015


The hearing by the Senate Committee on Aging
<http://www.aging.senate.gov/press-releases/senate-aging-committee-holds-1st-hearing-on-off-patent-rx-drug-price-spikes->,
led by Sens. Collins and McCaskill, presents impressive documentation that
drug prices are exorbitant, and that stimulating competition is an
inadequate solution, including from generics.  Generics are not available
for many medicines, including those off-patent; quality varies; and even
generic prices may be high. Debates on patent term lengths are important
but skirt the central problem. Voluntary "discount" programs by drug cos.
are window dressing. The U.S. government must have the authority to
negotiate prices, if not to outright set prices, as do other countries with
equal or better results for innovation.

http://www.aging.senate.gov/press-releases/senate-aging-committee-holds-1st-hearing-on-off-patent-rx-drug-price-spikes-

Senate Aging Committee Holds 1st Hearing on Off-Patent Rx Drug Price Spikes
COMMITTEE EXAMINES CAUSES, IMPACTS, AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS TO DRAMATIC
PRICE INCREASES OF OFF-PATENT DRUGSWednesday, December 9, 2015

Click HERE
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for
a copy of Senator Collins’ opening statement
Click HERE
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for
a copy of Senator McCaskill’ s opening statement

Washington, D.C.—The Senate Special Committee on Aging, led by Chairman
Susan Collins and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill, held the first in a
series of hearings the Committee will conduct to investigate recent
instances of abrupt and dramatic price increases in prescription drugs that
are no longer protected by patents. The hearing, titled *Sudden Price
Spikes in Off-Patent Drugs: Perspectives from the Front Lines*, began the
Committee’s bipartisan examination of this issue.

     “Prescription drugs are vital to the health and well-being of all
Americans, especially our nation’s seniors, 90 percent of whom take at
least one prescription drug in any given month,” said Senator Collins. “For
many decades, federal policy has sought to strike the right balance between
maintaining the incentives needed to promote innovation and the development
of new drugs and keeping medicines affordable.  That balance we have struck
never anticipated companies acquiring off-patent drugs and then jacking up
their prices to enormous heights, and doing so, as one executive
essentially put it, ‘because I can.’  In some instances, these price
increases have negatively affected patients’ and doctors’ access to
off-patent drugs.  One goal of our bipartisan investigation is to
understand why such companies can impose egregious price increases on
off-patent drugs they have acquired and what policies we should consider to
counter this disturbing practice.”

      “There’s a line at which huge price increases on prescription drugs
go from rewarding innovation to price gouging,” said Senator McCaskill. “In
particular, when these price hikes occur without any therapeutic changes or
improvements to the drug, it raises troubling questions about whether
companies are taking advantage of the patients who depend on their products
for survival.”

      This year alone, Americans are expected to spend more than $328
billion on prescription drugs.  Of this amount, individuals will pay about
$50 billion out-of-pocket.  The federal government will pick up another
$110 billion in payments through Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, and
other programs.

      Witnesses for the hearing included: Dr. Erin Fox, Director, Drug
Information Service, University of Utah Health Care and Adjunct Associate
Professor, University of Utah College of Pharmacy, Dept. of
Pharmacotherapy;  Dr. David Kimberlin, Professor and Vice Chair for
Clinical and Translational Research and Co-Director, Division of Pediatric
Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at
Birmingham;Dr. Gerard Anderson, Professor, Health Policy and Management,
Medicine, and International Health, Johns Hopkins University; and Mr. Mark
Merritt, President & Chief Executive Officer, Pharmaceutical Care
Management Association.


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for
a copy Dr. Erin Fox’s testimony
Click HERE
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for
a copy of Dr. David Kimberlin’s testimony
Click HERE
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for
a copy of Dr. Gerard Anderson’s testimony
Click HERE
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for
a copy of Mr. Mark Merritt’s testimony
- Ellen Shaffer


-- 
Dr. Ellen R. Shaffer, PhD MPH
Asst. Clinical Professor, UCSF
Co-Director, Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health/CPATH
P.O. Box 29586
San Francisco, CA 94129-0586
Phone 415-922-6204
www.cpath.org



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