3 things to know about the Senate Health Committee's drug price hearing

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday held the first of three hearings dedicated to the issue of high drug costs, reports CNBC.

Here are three things to know.

  1. The hearing delved into the complexities of the drug pricing system. Senators asked a panel of pricing experts basic questions regarding drug rebates, list prices and more. "Americans want to know who pays for prescription drugs, and where that money goes," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., HELP committee chairman, said in his opening remarks, according to CNBC.

  1. Democrats shifted the discussion toward healthcare reform. Rather than discussing drug costs, many Democratic Senators instead voiced their discontent over the Republican's healthcare reform bill. "I hope eventually we can sit down and have a conversation of drug pricing that is meaningful and relevant," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said during the hearing. "But this is irrelevant … if 23 million Americans lose access to health insurance, they can't afford prescription drugs. So it doesn't really matter what we do."

  1. The next two hearings will focus on drug development and affordable access for patients, according to Mr. Alexander. The next hearing may include representatives from drug companies, pharmacy benefit managers and drug distributors, Cowen analyst Eric Assaraf suggested in a research note Monday, according to the report.

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