US senators blast drug company execs over pricing practices

Feb. 26, 2019

Company executives from Sanofi, AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer appeared before the Senate Finance Committee today to discuss the rising costs of prescription medicines.

According to a Reuters report, U.S. senators called drug pricing practices “morally repugnant” and told drug company executives they do not want to hear them blame others for the high prices.

Senator Ron Wyden, the Finance Committee’s top Democrat, blasted each company one-by-one for “profiteering and two-faced scheming.”

The execs argued that their companies’ records of developing lifesaving medications, saying profits generated in the U.S. market help them fund expensive research and development of future treatments. Additionally, the executives supported plans to reform the industry-wide system of rebates that pharmacy benefit managers and health insurers receive from drugmakers.

Senators from both parties called out AbbVie’s Gonzalez, with Wyden noting that the CEO’s bonus was partially tied to Humira sales, which reached nearly $20 billion globally last year. The drug has a list price of more than $60,000 a year, nearly double what it was in 2014, according to Rx Savings Solutions.

Today's hearing is the first time drug company executives, most of them CEOs, faced lawmakers in more than two years.

Read the Reuters report