Pharmacy middlemen testify at Senate drug cost hearing

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Executives through all 5 of the health care industry’s top pharmacy benefit management companies are set to testify Tuesday at a hearing on the rising cost of drug prices inside the U.S. before the Senate Finance Committee.

Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in addition to the panel’s top Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are required to grill pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, on the role they play in increasing drug prices.

Those who will testify include:

  • CVS Health Executive Vice President Derica Rice
  • OptumRx CEO John Prince
  • Cigna Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Steve Miller
  • Prime Therapeutics interim President Mike Kolar
  • Humana President of health care services William Fleming

PBMs are the drug supply middlemen used to help insurance companies negotiate lower drug costs. Drugmakers arrange discounts, called rebates, with PBMs so they can secure a spot for their drugs on a PBM’s formulary. which discount is usually meant to be passed down to the consumer, yet critics assert which instead of lowering costs for customers, PBMs instead pocket the money.

Expensive costs have become a rare bipartisan issue for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as they look to decrease drug prices, with the Trump administration creating many proposals to lower costs.

In February, executives through seven drugmakers testified before the Finance Committee, pitching ideas on how to cut prices. The companies — AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer in addition to Sanofi — blamed the PBMs.

However, PBMs insist their goal is usually to lower prices in addition to are required to claim drugmakers are to blame for high costs.

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