In the third hearing in a series on drug pricing, Administration Officials Detail Policies Focused on Reducing Prescription Drug Costs

Senators Collins and Casey previously invited patients and drug pricing experts to share their insight with the Aging Committee


 

Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ opening statement

Click HERE to read Senator Casey’s opening statement

 

Washington, D.C.—In the final hearing in a three-part Senate Aging Committee series on the soaring cost of prescription drugs, Administration officials testified about policies their agencies have both proposed and implemented to increase competition and lower costs for consumers.  U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, pressed the agency leaders on steps they have taken to reduce health care costs and sought to identify areas of cooperation to further reduce prices.

 

Today’s hearing, titled “The Complex Web of Prescription Drug Prices, Part III: Examining Federal Efforts to Foster Competition and Increase Affordability,” builds on two previous hearings in this series.  The first hearing focused on patients’ personal struggles to afford the medications they need to maintain their health.  The second hearing featured the perspectives of drug pricing experts.

 

“According to a recent survey, nearly seven in ten Americans say that lowering prescription drug prices should be a ‘top priority’ for Congress.  As those who have followed our Committee’s work on drug pricing know, we have highlighted example after example of patients who feel powerless when confronted with sky high drug costs and go to extraordinary lengths to cover the cost of their medications,” said Senator Collins.  “While past hearings have focused on the root causes behind escalating prices, this hearing focused on some potential solutions.  In order to untangle patients from this complex web and bring them the relief they need without dampening innovation that produces life-saving new drugs, we need to work together, and that has been the spirit of this Committee.”

 

“With flat wages and the ever-increasing cost of living, the price of prescription drugs is like a bag of rocks on the backs of many families,” said Senator Casey. “It is our sacred responsibility to our aging loved ones, children and families that they are not forced to shoulder the crushing bag of rocks that prescription drug costs have become. Congress must enact commonsense policies to bring down the price of medications.”

 

Witnesses for today’s hearing included:

 

Demetrios Kouzoukas, Principal Deputy Administrator & Director of the Center for Medicare, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Washington, D.C.  Mr. Kouzoukas explained the Administration’s four-pronged strategy to improve the drug marketplace, which was outlined in the May 2018 publication “American Patients First Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs.” 

 

Janet Woodcock, M.D., Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Silver Spring, MD.  Dr. Woodcock focused her testimony on actions the FDA has taken to improve competition in the biosimilar and generic markets.  In 2018, FDA approved a record number of generic drugs, which surpassed record-setting years in 2017 and 2016. 

 

Vicki L. Robinson, Senior Counselor for Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Inspector General, Washington, D.C.  Ms. Robinson spoke about HHS OIG’s proposed rule addressing rebates and other price reductions on prescription drugs. 

 

Click HERE to read their testimonies.

 

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On March 6, 2019, the Committee heard from a panel of patients from across the country.  Testimonies included personal stories revealing the impact of high prescription drug prices, and the struggles that these Americans have gone through to be able to afford their medications. Click HERE to watch Part I.

 

On March 7, 2019, the Committee heard from experts on policy solutions to the rising costs of prescription drugs. Testimonies included academic and evidence-based perspectives on increasing transparency.  Click HERE to watch Part II.

 

The Senate Aging Committee has made combating high prescription drug prices a top priority.  In hearings last year, the Committee specifically examined the rising costs of drugs to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.

 

In 2015, the Aging Committee launched the Senate’s first bipartisan investigation into the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to the egregious price spikes for certain off-patent drugs.  The Committee released a report on its investigation in 2016. 

 

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