Senators Call on Industry, Public for Input on Gilead Pricing Concerns
With congressional efforts to pressure Gilead Sciences into lowering the price of two hepatitis C drugs floundering, members of the Senate Finance Committee are taking their concerns directly to the public.
In an open letter, two committee members — ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — ask the healthcare industry and the public for feedback on ways to reduce prescription drug prices while increasing transparency about pricing policies.
Both the letter and the request stem from an 18-month investigation into Gilead’s pricing of two blockbuster hepatitis C drugs — Sovaldi and its successor, Harvoni — that the Finance Committee reported on in December. The investigation concluded that Gilead set a $1,000 per-pill price tag on both drugs in a naked effort to maximize profit, with a focus on keeping “the drugs’ wholesale prices high and payer discounts low,” regardless of public reaction.
“We launched this investigation largely out of concern about the challenges that Gilead’s pricing decisions posed for public payers and the negative impact that restricted access had on patients within those systems,” the letter states. “Now we seek to gather information from the public about how to address policy issues, including the financial impact of high prices of breakthrough drugs, ensuring patient access, and improving marketplace transparency.”
To that end, the letter poses five questions:
- What tools are needed to address expensive drugs and corresponding restrictions on access to them, particularly as it concerns low-income patients and state healthcare programs?
- What measures would improve transparency on the pricing of expensive medications while offering manufacturers enough incentive to continue innovating?
- What role does a product’s value play in this debate, and should an innovative drug’s value be reflected in its pricing?
- What impact does a breakthrough, single-source innovator drug have on the marketplace? and
- Do insurance companies and other payers have enough information to know the cost, patient volume and efficacy of new treatment regimens?
The letter asks that all responses be submitted in PDF format to email@example.com by March 4.
Read the letter here: www.fdanews.com/01-22-16-Letter.pdf.