CEOs from some of the largest pharmaceutical companies testified before Congress.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers grilled the executives about why drug prices continue to rise.
Prescription drugs in the United States are so expensive some Americans can’t afford the medications they need. Insulin has been available for 100 years, but prices for that and other drugs are skyrocketing.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley says Congress wants to understand why the prices keep rising.
“As part of that fact-finding, ranking member Wyden and I launched an inquiry into the high cost of insulin,” said Senator Grassley
Executives from seven of the largest and most profitable pharmaceutical companies testified in other countries, the government helps set prices for prescriptions, but that can lead to certain drugs being unavailable.
The companies say the profits are put to good use.
“Last year we invested $10 billion dollars in R&D 23 percent of product sales,” said CEO Kenneth Frazier.
The executives also said consumers end up paying high out-of-pocket costs because the savings from rebates and coupons go to insurance companies and health care groups.
Democrat Oregon Senator Ron Wyden disagrees.
“I think you and others in the industry are stonewalling on the issue,” Senator Wyden. “Which is actually lowering list prices.”
Lawmakers took issue with the drug patent system, arguing it allows pharmaceutical companies to have a monopoly on medications and block cheaper generic drugs.
Congress is working on new legislation targeting prescription drug prices.