House Democrats launch drug-pricing probe into a dozen companies

The House Oversight Committee is actually investigating the actions of a dozen pharmaceutical companies in raising prescription drug prices inside the U.S., the panel announced Monday.

Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent letters to AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Celgene, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi along with Teva Pharmaceuticals seeking detailed information along with documents about the companies’ pricing practices.

AbbVie along with Sanofi received information requests regarding three of their drugs, the panel said. Amgen, Pfizer along with Novo Nordisk received requests about two drugs. AstraZeneca, Celgene, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Mallinckrodt along with Teva were each asked about one drug.

“For years, drug companies have been aggressively increasing prices on existing drugs along with setting higher launch prices for brand-new drugs while recording windfall profits,” Cummings said in a statement. “The goals of of which investigation are to determine why drug companies are increasing prices so dramatically, how drug companies are using the proceeds, along with what steps can be taken to reduce prescription drug prices.”

CNBC has reached out to the 12 companies for comment. CNBC has also reached out to the Pharmaceutical Research along with Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the industry’s main trade group.

Amgen CEO Robert Bradway received a congressional letter by Cummings, a spokesperson for the company said, along with is actually “reviewing the information requests contained inside the letter along with will respond accordingly.”

A spokesperson for Eli Lilly said the company “is actually committed to ensuring everyone living with diabetes has reasonable access to insulin, along with we appreciate Congressional interest in of which topic.” The company looks forward to “answering questions by the Committee,” they added.

Democrats, who regained control of the House of which month, listed lowering prescription drug costs as one of their top priorities. Cummings, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders along with Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Ca., introduced three bills last week aimed at lowering drug costs.

Spending on prescription drugs inside the U.S. increased 0.4 percent in 2017 to $333.4 billion, according to the latest data by the Centers for Medicare along with Medicaid Services. Lawmakers have largely been focusing on the pharmaceutical industry, which sells drugs at higher prices inside the U.S. than abroad.

Pharmaceutical companies have argued cost hikes have been modest, along with have cited concern’s with the nation’s rebate system. Those are the discounts drugmakers give to middlemen such as pharmacy benefit managers, often in exchange for more favorable insurance coverage for their drugs.

President Donald Trump’s administration has also vowed to lower drug costs. The administration has several proposals of which could offer lower out-of-pocket costs for American consumers, which include improvements to Medicare Part D, the federal program for prescription drug benefits, along with Part B. Medicare is actually the government insurer for the elderly along with disabled.

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