PHARMACY

PhRMA highlights industry commitment to lowering drug prices following Senate hearing

BY Sandra Levy

Executives from the nation’s seven largest drug companies took to Capitol Hill Tuesday to testify before the Senate Finance Committee regarding prescription drug prices.

While acknowledging that drug pricing is a complex issue, in his opening remarks during the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing yesterday on drug pricing, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and chairman of the committee, said, “We cannot allow anyone to hide behind the current complexities to shield the true cost of a drug. And, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to industry practices that thwart the laws and regulations.”

Following the hearing Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the industry is ready to undertake reforms. “During today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, our member companies demonstrated the industry’s commitment to working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle on policies to transform our health care system. Significant reforms aimed at changing the marketplace will be disruptive for our industry, but we believe they are necessary to improve patient affordability and lower costs.”

Ubl said PhRMA is engaged with the Association for Accessible Medicines to jointly develop a modified version of the CREATES Act that will increase competition from generic medicines. “We will continue to work with policymakers on a bipartisan basis to advance this legislation,” he said.

He noted that PhRMA supports the administration’s proposal to reform the rebate system, which will ensure patients have access to negotiated rebates at the pharmacy counter. “The billions of dollars flowing through today’s system seem to benefit everyone except the patient,” Ubl said.

Ubl continued, “We support delinking supply chain payments from the list price of a medicine. Pharmacy benefit managers and other entities in the supply chain should not be paid off the list price of a medicine and instead should be paid a fee based on the value of the services they provide.”

Noting that PhRMA is committed to working with the Administration and Congress to address Medicare Part B medicine cost concerns, Ubl said, PhRMA is opposed to the proposed International Pricing Index Model, but is open to bringing the benefits of market-based competition to Medicare Part B.

Ubl noted that all these efforts come at the same time that PhRMA members are working to offer more transparency to potential patients.

“Our members voluntarily committed to provide more transparency about medicine costs in direct-to-consumer, or DTC television advertisements,” he said. “DTC TV ads will now direct patients to information, including the list price of the medicine, out-of-pocket costs or other context about the potential cost of the medicine and available financial assistance. While these types of reforms will fundamentally change how our member companies operate, we believe that taken together, they will lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs while preserving the ability to develop new innovative medicines.”

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