Viewpoint: Big Pharma offered Congress little to change drug-pricing status quo

When seven pharma executives testified before the Senate Finance Committee this week to answer questions about their industry's drug-pricing practices, they pledged to work with lawmakers to keep costs down, but offered no solid commitments — an unacceptable response in an environment where patients are rationing medications because they can't afford them, a Bloomberg opinion piece states.

The hearing had a few memorable moments, for example when Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, Ore., compared AbbVie's patent strategy for its arthritis drug Humira to Gollum's possessiveness of the One Ring in "Lord of the Rings," but executives emerged largely unscathed.

The industry expressed support for a HHS' plan to revamp the rebate system. However, there is one major reason the industry supports it: It doesn't harm them, and it will target their biggest drug-pricing rivals. The plan may actually increase profits for pharmaceutical firms, Bloomberg Opinion columnist Max Nisen wrote. Mr. Nisen covers biotech, pharma and healthcare wrote for Bloomberg.

The executives left the hearing victorious, in a sense, because they offered support for programs that will maintain the status quo, Mr. Nisen said.

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