Top executives from seven of the largest pharmaceutical companies are set to testify Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee.
The congressional hearing, called "Drug Pricing in America: A Prescription for Change, Part II," sets up a potentially hostile showdown between Washington and drugmakers, who face the threat of legislative action after years of setting drug prices in the U.S. without serious repercussions.
Congress and President Donald Trump's administration have made lowering drug prices one of their top priorities. The committee, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., argue prescription drug costs, which totaled more than $333 billion in 2017, are too high and the pace of drug price increases is "unsustainable."
Meantime, pharmaceutical companies have placed blame on pharmacy benefit managers, the so-called middlemen, who negotiate discounts with the manufacturers, for rising prescription drug costs. They also argue any cuts to their high profits could hinder research and development of new and innovative treatments.
The hearing already looks to be contentious with Grassley tweeting his hope that drug company executives "don't try to blame everyone but themselves/take no responsibility for their role in fixing the problem." He said he expects there is room for more transparency and improvement in the supply chain.