The New Congress Has Big Pharma In Its Crosshairs

Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has several missions. Congressman Cummings is a seasoned lawmaker who doesn’t dance around important issues. Mr. Cummings told 60 Minutes his committee will dig into the pricing practices of the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Cummings sent letters to 12 of the major drug companies in order to get to the bottom of how these companies price drugs. The brand name drugs that treat kidney failure, diabetes, nerve pain, and cancer are outrageously expensive, and there’s no reasonable explanation for the big pharma pricing strategy.

Some drug prices continue to increase long after the drug companies recoup their research and development costs, according to Cummings. Mr. Cummings wants the drug companies to explain why they continue to raise prices on drugs that keep people alive. He also wants to know how drug companies price their drugs when they first hit the drug market. Plus, the congressman wants the drug companies to explain the steps they take to reduce prescription costs. The escalation in drug prices has to stop, according to Cummings. His committee plans to stop the out-of-control drug increases.

Cummings said the research and development efforts that produce medications that help people deal with life-threatening diseases help millions of people. But the constant price increases for those medications has to stop. Mr. Trump wants to reduce drug prices by giving the thumbs up to generic medications. He also wants to cut the fat out of the drug industry by stopping manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, and insurance companies from raking in profits at the expense of the consumers who use them.

According to recent consumer surveys, drug prices are a major concern for the aging baby boomers. The boomers, and the other generations that need certain drugs to live want the government to step in and control drug prices. Mr. Cummings wants to tie American drug prices to the prices other advanced nations pay for their drugs. The government controls prices in those countries, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America didn’t comment when Cummings made his announcement to put them under the Congressional microscope. But in an old statement, the trade group said regulating drug prices would turn the U.S. healthcare system upside down. That pharma group thinks government regulations would have an impact on the financial incentives that produce the breakthrough drugs some people need to survive.

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