HELP Committee starts work to deliver lower pharmaceutical costs

By Ben Mouncer
A Senate committee has started to tackle the issue of pricing in the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier this week we reported a Managed Healthcare Execut...

A Senate committee has started to tackle the issue of pricing in the pharmaceutical industry.

Earlier this week we reported a Managed Healthcare Executive survey that highlighted costs as the biggest challenge facing the industry in the United States.

On Tuesday, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held the first of three hearings in Washington, D.C. to pool analysis and ideas from its range of experts.

Senators were warned that rocketing prices are leaving some medicines unaffordable for many people and that out-of-pocket expenses are rising.

Allan Coukell from Pew said a particular area of worry was specialty drugs, with high costs and further annual increases giving patients cause for concern.

Brands holding a monopoly on some drugs is also driving increases as Professor Gerard Andersen of Johns Hopkins University spoke of at the HELP Committee’s hearing.

"As any economist can tell you, when there’s a monopoly, they set the price that the market will bear," he said.

The next two hearings will focus on research & development and then supply chain expenses in the industry.

Work is also being done by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to put together a plan to bring down the costs of pharmaceuticals.

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