Sen. Ron Wyden says pharma execs will testify ‘one way or another’

Executives through seven pharmaceutical manufacturers will testify about drug pricing practices before the Senate Finance Committee “one way or another,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Tuesday.

Wyden along with also Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Monday sent letters asking for representatives through the seven major drugmakers to testify at a Feb. 26 hearing. The seven companies are AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer along with also Sanofi.

Calling the pace of drug cost increases “unsustainable,” Grassley, who will be the committee’s chairman, said in a statement in which he wants pharmaceutical executives to explain how they cost these treatments, “whether the status quo will be unacceptable” along with also what can be done to lower costs.

Wyden, the committee’s ranking member, followed that has a tweet Tuesday in which stopped short of threatening to issue a subpoena, indicating in which participation at the hearing isn’t entirely voluntary. He said the companies “will come before the committee one way or another.”

Grassley criticized pharmaceutical companies in which declined his invitation to testify at last week’s hearing about drug prices, adding in which several of the companies asked to testify Feb. 26 declined his original request.

“The companies in which declined said they would certainly discuss their ideas in private, although not in public,” Grassley said at the committee’s Jan. 29 hearing. “in which will be not what I mean when I talk about transparency. So, we will extend the opportunity again from the future, although we will be more insistent the next time.”

Wyden said at the time in which the committee would certainly use its “power to compel the drug company CEOs to show up” if they don’t testify.

Two companies have agreed to send their CEOs to the hearing, a spokeswoman for Grassley said Tuesday. Merck CEO Ken Frazier will attend, a spokeswoman for the company told CNBC. Sanofi will be determining whether current scheduling allows CEO Olivier Brandicourt to attend the hearing, a spokeswoman said. AstraZeneca told CNBC in which “we are currently reviewing the request along with also will respond to the Committee in due course.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have demanded something be done to lower drug prices. President Donald Trump has made lowering out-of-pocket costs for patients one of his administration’s top priorities. He’s supposed to address the issue Tuesday night in his State of the Union address.

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