[Ip-health] Stat: Powerful Senate committee launches bipartisan probe into insulin pricing

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Feb 25 00:34:08 PST 2019


Powerful Senate committee launches bipartisan probe into insulin pricing

FEBRUARY 22, 2019

WASHINGTON — The heads of the influential Senate Finance Committee on
Friday launched an investigation into the high price of insulin, demanding
answers from the three manufacturers that control most of the global market
for the drug: Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk.

The bipartisan investigation is the latest sign of Washington’s growing
interest in the rising price of prescription drugs and highlights in
particular the increasingly central role the Finance Committee is playing
in that debate under its new chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The
same panel will hear from seven drug industry CEOs — including Sanofi’s CEO
Olivier Brandicourt — about the rising cost of drugs Tuesday.

“We are concerned that the substantial increases in the price of insulin
over the past several years will continue their upward drive and pose
increasingly severe hardships not only on patients that require access to
the drug in order to stay alive but also on the taxpayer,” Grassley and
ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote in three letters sent to the
insulin makers.

The announcement is also the latest in a spate of bad news for insulin
makers, who are increasingly being singled out for their pricing tactics.
The House Oversight Committee has also launched an investigation into
insulin makers and the chair of the House Energy and Commerce oversight
subcommittee, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), has also pledged to bring
executives from the same three companies before her committee.

Grassley and Wyden are seeking a slew of information from the companies,
including data that is typically closely guarded, namely how the companies
price their insulin products, the rebates they provide middlemen in
exchange for placement on insurance formularies, and how much they
contribute to diabetes patient groups and charities.

One question, however, stands out above the rest. The lawmakers also ask
insulin makers for their position on the Trump administration’s proposal to
eliminate drug rebates: “Please describe how it will impact the pricing of
your insulin products,” the lawmakers write.

Related: ‘Everyone is at fault’: With insulin prices skyrocketing, there’s
plenty of blame to go around

Insulin makers have long claimed that they must continue to hike their list
prices in order to satisfy drug industry middlemen, who typically profit
off the spread between the list price and the negotiated price. Neither
Wyden nor Grassley hast taken a clear position on the administration’s
proposal to eliminate certain rebates entirely.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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