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Grassley Calls for Action on His Committee-Passed Bills to Lower Rx Costs

Judiciary Committee witnesses back Grassley’s efforts to boost pharmaceutical industry competition, improve patient care

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today participated in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine competition in the prescription drug industry. In addition to previously leading the Judiciary Committee, Grassley serves as a senior member and former chairman of the Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid.

Lowering prescription drug costs and shining light on opaque pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) practices are among Grassley’s top priorities, informed by Iowans’ insights. PBMs manage every aspect of the prescription drugs benefit process – from setting prices, to deciding which drugs insurance plans cover and where they’re dispensed. Three PBMs control nearly 80 percent of the market, yet neither Congress nor the public has adequate visibility into their operations or impact on prescription drug prices.

 

Today’s hearing witnesses included legal authorities and members of the pharmaceutical industry. An overview of Grassley’s questions follows.

 

Advancing Legislation to Combat Consolidation:

Grassley highlighted his legislation dealing with pay for delay, product hopping and evergreening, citizen petitions abuse and PBM practices. He specifically urged action on the five bills he’s either leading or supporting that have passed the Judiciary Committee this Congress.

 

Grassley asked, “Do you believe that the bills I’ve mentioned will help promote competition and lower drug costs for patients? Please explain.” Witnesses confirmed the legislation would help address antitrust and affordability issues.

 

Pulling Back the Curtain on PBMs:

Grassley’s bipartisan PBM Transparency Act with Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) aims to prevent unfair, anti-competitive practices by PBMs.

 

Grassley asked, “Do you believe this bill would help address competition concerns and lower the price of drugs for patients?” The witness indicated support for the goals of the PBM Transparency Act.

 

Spending Efficiently on Research and Development (R&D):

Grassley noted the federal government will invest close to $50 billion in health care research throughout Fiscal Year 2024. The pharmaceutical industry invests an additional $80-90 billion annually on R&D.

 

Grassley asked, “How do we build on this work so we can find the next miracle drug without breaking patients’ pocketbooks? What kinds of incentives spur investments in R&D?” The witness cited reliable and effective patent rights as one way to support innovation.

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