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Executives from five of the health care industry's top pharmacy benefit management companies are set to testify Tuesday at a hearing on the rising cost of drug prices in the U.S. before the Senate Finance Committee.
Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and the panel's top Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are expected to grill pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, on the role they play in increasing drug prices.
Those who will testify include:
PBMs are the drug supply middlemen used to help insurance companies negotiate lower drug costs. Drugmakers arrange discounts, called rebates, with PBMs so they can secure a spot for their drugs on a PBM's formulary. That discount is meant to be passed down to the consumer, but critics assert that instead of lowering costs for customers, PBMs instead pocket the money.
Expensive costs have become a rare bipartisan issue for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as they look to decrease drug prices, with the Trump administration making a number of proposals to lower costs.
In February, executives from seven drugmakers testified before the Finance Committee, pitching ideas on how to cut prices. The companies — AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Sanofi — blamed the PBMs.
However, PBMs insist their goal is to lower prices and are expected to claim drugmakers are to blame for high costs.