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Pharma-Pricing Task Force Launched By US Democrats

Pharma-Pricing Task Force Launched By US Democrats

By: Sarah Massey, M.Sc.

Posted on: in News | Pharmaceutical Marketing News

Talks surrounding the recent price increases of pharmaceuticals in the US continue to escalate, much to the dismay of drugmakers. According to a group of House Democrats, they are prepared to unveil a pharma-pricing task force to deal with the growing issue.

The announcement follows similar campaign promises made by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. The Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force – led by Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform announced their intention to hold a press conference today to detail their plan to take “meaningful action to combat the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals.”

According to Representative Elijah Cummings, the task force intends to issue subpoenas to Martin Shkreli and Michael Pearson – CEOs of Turing and Valeant respectively – to further investigate each company’s pricing practices following recent price hikes of their drugs. This builds upon Cummings’ generic drug pricing legislation that was included in the budget agreement approved last week.

The legislation will force pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide higher Medicaid rebates when they raise the price of generic medications faster than the rate of inflation. “I believe this [price gouging] unconscionable, and frankly, it’s inexplicable,” said Cummings during the press conference.

“Patients, hospitals, and healthcare providers in all of our districts are affected by this price gouging,” he said. The renewed interest in controlling pharmaceutical prices comes after a number of recent price-hikes, including the 5,000 percent markup of Turing Pharmaceutical’s drug, Daraprim.

“The sudden, aggressive price hikes for a variety of drugs used widely for decades affect patients and health care providers and the overall cost of health care,” commented Senator Susan Collins, the chair of the Special Committee on Aging. According to the task force, they plan on making some new changes to drug pricing legislation that statistics show are popular among the public.

A poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 77 percent of survey participants – regardless of whether they were Democrats, Republicans or independents – named drug prices as their top health concern. Despite Cummings’ drive to reform drug pricing in the US, analysts are skeptical as to whether those changes are realistic.

Skeptics cite the repeated failures of Medicare price negotiation and drug reimportation as the reason behind their pessimism. The taskforce will also face an uphill battle in dealing with the millions of dollars pharmaceutical companies spend on lobbying, as well the powerful PhRMA industry group in the US capital.


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