The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) has announced it will be holding a hearing on drug prices next Tuesday, June 13th, at 10 AM, in Room 430 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing is titled “The Cost of Prescription Drugs: How the Drug Delivery System Affects What Patients Pay” and will be streamed here.
The hearing will have an academic focus and center on “the process of moving drugs from the manufacturer to patients and how the drug delivery system affects what patients pay when picking up their prescriptions.” In a
sent last month, Committee Chair Senator Lamar Alexander wrote that he wanted to ensure that Senators were operating from similar understandings of the facts about drug spending, and to inform what topics the Committee would later explore. There will likely be another hearing on drug prices a few weeks after this one.
Rising drug prices are harming tens of millions of Americans. Overall prescription drug prices increased by 8.77% in 2016, far outpacing inflation. According to Harvard health studies and the Center for Disease Control Center, 20 million Americans did not fill their prescriptions because of concerns about costs, leading to serious health consequences and long, expensive hospital stays. And the pharmaceutical drug cost per capita in $1,025 in the United States. The industrial world average is $515 per capita, just half of our costs.
It is an excellent sign that the HELP Committee is looking at our drug system. It is important that Senators examine all aspects of the prescription drug market, including drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and how they contribute to skyrocketing drug costs.