McCaskill: 'The Facts Underlying This Hearing Are So Egregious, It's Hard Not to Get Emotional About It'

McCaskill: 'The Facts Underlying This Hearing Are So Egregious, It's Hard Not to Get Emotional About It'

Senator tackles price spikes in Rx drugs in first bipartisan Senate hearing on the issue in years

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator  Claire McCaskill today helped lead the first in a series of hearings on dramatic drug price increases—often on older, off-patent drugs—after the acquisition or merger of pharmaceutical companies.

The hearing, entitled Sudden Price Spikes in Off-Patent Drugs: Perspectives from the Front Lines explored the causes of these sudden, aggressive price hikes on off-patent drugs and the effect these egregious price increases have on patients' access to medication.

"My biggest challenge today is to not lose my temper—the facts underlying this hearing are so egregious it's hard not to get emotional about it," McCaskill said. "It's imperative that we find out if our system is being taken advantage of by companies or individuals that seek deep profits while contributing little or nothing to advances in medical treatment."

In recent years, prescription drug prices in the U.S. have steadily increased, making drugs unaffordable to many Americans, particularly those on a fixed income as many seniors are. In 2014 alone, drug spending increased by 13.1%, the largest annual increase since 2003.

Witnesses for the hearing included: Dr. Gerard Anderson, Professor, Health Policy and Management, Medicine, and International Health, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Erin Fox, Director, Drug Information Service, University of Utah Health Care and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Utah College of Pharmacy, Dept. of Pharmacotherapy; Dr. David Kimberlin, Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical and Translational Research; Co-Director, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Mr. Mark Merritt, President & Chief Executive Officer, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

As part of the committee's investigation, McCaskill has requested documents and information from four pharmaceutical companies: Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Turing Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin Inc, and Rodelis Therapeutics.  Each request focuses on drugs that have seen recent and significant spikes in price.

McCaskill will hold subsequent hearings on the issue of prescription drug pricing in the following months, including taking a deeper look at the four companies.

Seniors account for 13 percent of the population but account for 34 percent of the all prescription medication used.  More than 40 percent of seniors take five or more prescription drugs per day.

The Special Committee on Aging, led by Chairman Collins and Ranking Member McCaskill, promotes discussions and conducts investigations on areas of special interest to older Americans.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/consumers to learn more about McCaskill's fight to strengthen protections for American consumers.

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