In Hearing on Skyrocketing Prescription Costs, Carper Pushes Pharma CEOs to Identify Solutions to Reduce Drug Prices

Carper: “This isn’t a political issue. It’s a deeply personal issue that affects millions of Americans”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), released a statement following a Finance Committee hearing on prescription drug prices with CEOs from seven major pharmaceutical companies. The hearing is the second of its kind in the committee’s broader effort to examine drug pricing in the United States and address skyrocketing costs for patients and consumers. In 2016, total prescription drug spending in the United States reached $329 billion – more than double what was spent in 2002. Based on Senate Finance Committee estimates, the total government share of retail prescription drug spending rose from approximately 25 percent in 2005 to an estimated 44 percent in 2017. Additionally, annual prescription drug spending growth is expected to average 5.4 percent over the next decade, the sharpest increase of any major health care sector. 

“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, is there a noise? Similarly, if there is a ‘miracle’ drug that neither the government nor patients who need it can afford, is it really a miracle? The issue we are discussing today – how to help families afford potentially life-saving medications a loved one needs – is not a partisan issue. It is a deeply personal issue and one that I’d bet every person in this hearing room today can relate to in one way or another. Over the years, I’ve heard time and time again from Delawareans who simply cannot afford the medicine they need at the pharmacy counter. That is simply unacceptable. On behalf of American patients, we can and must do better.

“That’s why in today’s hearing, I asked the CEOs of major pharmaceutical companies to help find consensus and identify comprehensive solutions. Specifically, I asked if eliminating rebates, implementing value-based arrangements, and requiring transparency, would bring drug prices down – and every CEO before the committee today agreed these policies would help lower the prices of prescription drugs in this country. I look forward to the upcoming hearing with other stakeholders in the prescription drug supply chain and working together to make lower drug prices a reality for patients and taxpayers.  

“Congress has shown that, when we’re willing to get serious about this issue, we can help bring about real results. In December, following an investigation Senator Portman and I launched into the exorbitant price of Kaléo’s life-saving naloxone product, the company announced it would take the appropriate steps to reduce the price of its auto-injector to $178, down from $4,100 per unit. Just last week, as part of the Finance Committee’s bipartisan commitment to examine drug pricing in our country, Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden announced that they are launching a bipartisan investigation into the price increases of up to 500 percent or more for insulin, a hormone used to treat diabetes which affects nearly 30 million Americans and their families. I am encouraged by these positive steps and hopeful that, together, we can continue to push for real results that consumers can feel. It will remain a top priority of mine to continue delivering real, positive results for patients and families in the First State by ensuring that patients can afford safe medications, health care, and the medical devices they need.”