Congress is now investigating the price tag of prescription drugs after a study found the cost has been rising faster than inflation.
Researchers found from 2008 to 2016 brand name drug prices nearly doubled, and the costs of injectible medicines, like insulin, jumped 15 percent each year. Adding onto this, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects that prescription drug spending will increase more rapidly than any other heath care sector over the next 10 years.
Representative Elijah Cummings, who is now the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent letters to 12 major pharmaceutical companies asking for details on how they determine prices, to find out what has caused costs to spike so dramatically.
"For years, drug companies have been aggressively increasing prices on existing drugs and setting higher launch prices for new drugs while recording windfall profits," said Cummings. "The goals of this investigation is to determine why drug companies are increasing prices so dramatically, how drug companies are using the proceeds, and what steps can be taken to reduce prescription drug prices.”
In 2016, the government spent $37.7 billion through Medicare Part D on the 20 most expensive drugs, and this year they are expected to spend $99 billion.
“Research and development efforts on groundbreaking medications have made immeasurable contributions to the health of Americans, including new treatments and cures for diseases that have affected people for centuries,” Cummings continued. “But the ongoing escalation of prices by drug companies is unsustainable.”
Cummings next step is to hold several hearings in the coming weeks so the committee can hear from experts and patients who are affected by rising drug prices.
Cummings sent the letters to the following companies regarding certain drugs prices:
1. AbbVie Inc.: Humira Pen (Arthritis), Humira (Arthritis), Imbruvica* (Lymphoma)
2. Amgen Inc.: Enbrel (Arthritis), Sensipar (Kidney),
3. AstraZeneca PLC: Crestor (Cholesterol)
4. Celgene Corporation: Revlimid (Cancer)
5. Eli Lilly and Company: Humalog Kwikpen U-100 (Diabetes)
6. Johnson & Johnson: Imbruvica* (Lymphoma)
7. Mallinckrodt PLC: H.P. Acthar (Infantile Spasms)
8. Novartis AG: Gleevec (Cancer)
9. Novo Nordisk: Novolog Flexpen (Diabetes), Victoza 3-Pak (Diabetes)
10. Pfizer Inc.: Lyrica (Pain), Nexium (GERD)
11. Sanofi: Lantus (Diabetes), Lantus Solostar (Diabetes), Renvela (Kidney)
12. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.: Copaxone (Multiple Sclerosis)