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BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More

Big Pharma executives get bipartisan “grilling” by U.S. Senators over sky-rocketing prices. What’s next?

U.S. Senate Health CommitteeWhy do prescription drugs cost more in the United States than in most other countries?

And why do Americans pay more for their medications while also subsidizing pharmaceutical company research with their tax dollars?

These are good questions. And the seven top executives representing the largest multi-national pharmaceutical corporations couldn’t come up with answers during what the media characterized as a “three-hour grilling” by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

“Prices are astronomically high because that’s where pharmaceutical companies and their investors want them,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and chief executive of AbbVie, which produces Humira, one of the world’s best-selling arthritis drugs, was asked to explain why the cost of their medication more than doubled from $19,000 in 2012 to $41,000 today.

“Humira plays a very important role in AbbVie’s overall funding of our R & D (research and development),” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez also volunteered that his company made profits in countries like Germany and France where prices of brand-name drugs were often much lower than in the U.S.

“The U.S. has some of the highest prices in the world,” he said.

Wyden echoed other Senate colleagues by saying:

Drugmakers’ attempts to defend sky-rocketing prices at a time when more and more patients are struggling to afford them, is “morally repugnant.”

Following the hearing, health care journalists and analysts, including veteran New York Times reporter Robert Pear, wrote that the hearing could be the first step in moving legislation to bring relief to consumers.

What about you? Did you watch the hearing? Have you or a loved one been struggling with soaring prescription drug prices? Share your thoughts with Voices for Affordable Health.