Big Pharma CEOs Head to Congress for Grilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Executives from seven major drug corporations will testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday to explain their pricing practices and the fact that American patients and taxpayers pay more for drugs than anywhere in the world. In the lead up to the hearing, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now reviewed the pricing history of each corporation and developed questions patients want answered from the Pharma CEOs.
 
“We hear every day from patients suffering under the high cost of prescription drugs,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Patients deserve answers, and we need Congressional action to stop this abuse of American patients from continuing.”
 
U.S. patients and taxpayers spend more than $450 billion each year on prescription drugs, by some estimates, nearly one-fifth of all health care costs. Patent-protected brand-name drugs drive spending, making up only about 10 percent of prescriptions but accounting for three-quarters of drug spending.
 
You can read Patients For Affordable Drugs Now’s full testimony for the record here. Below please find a summary of pricing practices and key questions for the Pharma CEOs.
 
ABBVIE INC.

About AbbVie: AbbVie’s anti-inflammatory drug Humira is the top-selling drug in the world. The drug company doubled the price from about $19,000 per year in 2012 to $38,000 per year in 2018. AbbVie secured more than 100 patents on Humira, ensuring that patent thickets will keep competition off the U.S. market. Meanwhile, the company cut the price in Europe by 80 percent for the exact same drug. 
 
Questions: 

  • Is it fair that Europeans have access to a less expensive biosimilar competitor for Humira, but your company bragged about blocking that competition in the U.S.?

  • Do you partake in pay for delay or deals for delay? Do you support the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act (S.64)?

  • Since Humira has already been very successful with more sales than the revenue of eBay, will you commit to holding the price of Humira steady until a biosimilar comes to market? 

PFIZER

About Pfizer: Pfizer’s history of price hikes is as staggering as it is long. Here’s a look at the last three years: In 2017, Pfizer raised the price of 91 drugs by 20 percent — that was nearly 10 times the rate of inflation. In mid-2018, Pfizer announced price hikes on about 100 prescription drugs. After temporary freezes, Pfizer raised the raised the price of 40 drugs in January 2019.
 
Questions:

  • Will you commit to limiting the increase in list price of your drugs to the rate of inflation?

  • Will you commit to submitting to this committee at the end of this year (2019) a report of the ways you have utilized the $10 billion stock buyback to serve patients?


SANOFI 
 
About Sanofi: Almost 30 million Americans live with diabetes and 6 million need insulin to survive. From 2010 to 2015, Sanofi raised the price of the lifesaving diabetes drug Lantus by 168 percent.
 
Questions:

  • If PBM rebates were eliminated, would you lower your list prices?

  • Will you commit to undoing the dozens of times you’ve raised the price of Lantus and lower the list price this year?

  • As the Chairman of the lobbying group, PhRMA, your organization spent $27.5 million on lobbying in 2018. Next year, will you agree to take half that money and use it to lower drug prices across the board for patients?


MERCK & CO., INC.

About Merck: Merck is no stranger to drug price increases. From January 2017 to mid-2018, Merck raised the price of Januvia by nearly 20 percent. In November 2018, the corporation raised the price on five drugs, including top-selling Gardasil and Keytruda.
 
Questions:

  • Will you submit, for the record, the cost of research and development for the drug Keytruda, which reaped a total of $1.89 billion the third quarter of 2018 alone ––  an increase of 80% since 2017?

  • Your company recently spent $10 billion on stock buybacks. This year, will you commit to decreasing drug prices by that same amount?

 
JOHNSON & JOHNSON

About Johnson & Johnson: Since 2012, Johnson & Johnson has raised the price of its blockbuster drug Xarelto by 87 percent. In January of 2019, the company raised the price on about two dozen drugs.
 
Questions:

  • Will you commit to holding your price increases to inflation each year?

  • Will you commit to striking a deal with the New York Drug Utilization Review Board if they deem it necessary to decrease the cost of Remicade for state taxpayers?


BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO. 
 
About Bristol-Myers Squibb: Over the last eight years, Bristol-Myers Squibb has spent over$25 million in lobbying expenditures and $1.75 million in campaign contributions, according to Open Secrets. The company raised the price of its blockbuster drug Eliquis by 6 percentin January 2019. Last year alone, U.S. patients paid Bristol-Myers Squibb $3.8 billion for Eliquis, a 30 percent year-over-year increase.
 
Questions:

  • Will you commit to donating 50% less to candidates for public office in 2020 and investing that money toward research and development or decreasing price for patients?

  • With your recent acquisition of Celgene, will you commit to ending Celgene’s use of the REMS program to prevent a generic from coming to market for its blockbuster drug, Revlimid?

  • Do you support the CREATES Act?


ASTRAZENECA
 
About AstraZeneca: AstraZeneca has a history of charging cancer patients high prices. Here are three examples: Imfinzi costs $180,000 per year for lung cancer, Lynparza costs around $15,000 for 112 pills for ovarian cancer, and Iressa costs $8,000 for 30 pills for lung cancer. And before AstraZeneca faced a generic competitor for its high cholesterol drug, Crestor, the company raised prices multiple times, including by about 15 percent right before a generic competitor came to market.
 
Questions:

  • Will you submit for the record the following information: the amount you have spent on research and development vs. AstraZeneca’s yearly budget for marketing and advertising?

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