Senate Committee Hearing to Focus on High Drug Costs

Senate Committee Hearing to Focus on High Drug Costs

The past few weeks we have reported on a hearing in the House of Representatives held by the Committee on Oversight and Reform regarding the prices that drug companies are charging for some of their drugs that are critical for the health of many seniors.

Now, it is the Senate’s turn.

On June 16, a subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the high costs of prescription drugs and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has invited the CEO of Gilead Sciences to testify at the hearing.

The letter sent by the Senator explains her reasons for wanting to hear from the Gilead CEO.

It said in part, “The hearing will examine the importance of competition policy and the role of the federal government in promoting competition. During the hearing, we will examine competition in the pharmaceutical industry and the impact of anti-competitive behaviors on consumer access, innovation within the industry, and the high prices that patients and taxpayers must pay for prescription drugs. Gilead Sciences, Inc. can offer an important perspective on drug pricing and competitiveness within the pharmaceutical industry. In recent years, Gilead has sold revolutionary drugs for conditions like hepatitis C virus infection and HIV/AIDS. Harvoni and Sovaldi are so effective at treating hepatitis C that they were heralded as “miracle” drugs when they came on the market.

“But the prohibitively high prices of Gilead’s drugs have made it hard for patients to access the lifesaving treatments they need,4 forced taxpayers to bear the brunt of high costs,5 and inhibited competition.6 When Sovaldi first came on the market, it cost $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment; Harvoni cost between $63,000 for an 8-week treatment and $94,500 for 12 weeks.7

“Gilead charged U.S. taxpayers some of the highest prices in the world for remdesivir.12 That price remains extremely high, even though subsequent research has revealed that the drug does not have a meaningful effect on survival, leading it to be dropped from the WHO list of COVID treatments.13”

The goal here is to gain more information into the operations of the big drug companies as part of the process of coming up with legislation to deal with the high costs of drugs in the U.S.