KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lawmakers Call For Inquiry Into Pharmaceutical Company Price Hikes

Reuters: "Congressional Democrats are seeking government investigations into recent price increases of brand-name prescription drugs, as Congress finalizes an overhaul of the healthcare system. Lawmakers are concerned the companies are trying to reap gains ahead of reforms aimed at lowering drug prices and forcing drugmakers to partly fund changes that aim to boost the number of Americans covered by health insurance. 'I want to know if there's a back-door move underway by the drugmakers to recover some of the concessions they've promised for health care reform,' said Senator Bill Nelson, who represents many older Americans in the state of Florida" (Heavey, 11/19).

The New York Times reports that House Democrats wrote "a letter to the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress. 'Any price gouging is unacceptable, but anticipatory price gouging is especially offensive,' the letter [said], asking the G.A.O. to conduct an expedited review of the price increases. .... Drug companies do not deny having raised wholesale prices at the highest rate in years. But they say it has nothing to do with the impending health care legislation. They say the price increases are necessary to maintain profits for research and employment in the face of a difficult business environment, which includes a slowdown in sales of many brand-name products, expiring patents and increasing competition from generic drugs" (Wilson, 11/18).

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