Policy-ish

House Democrats Ask GAO To Investigate Drug Prices

Hey, Big Pharma, get ready for a bunch of questions about your prices.

scott hensley
iStockphoto.com

Some heavy-hitting Democrats in the House, including Energy & Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, have asked the Government Accountability Office to look into pricing trends for common prescription drugs just as soon as possible.

You can see the letter here.

The Dems want the info right away, before plowing ahead with health overhaul. At issue is whether drugmakers preemptively jacked up prices, undercutting an $80 billion savings deal the brand-name pharmaceutical industry struck with the administration.

And to put a point on the request, the congressmen want GAO to name the names of companies whose price trends are out of whack.

The congressmen are suspicious and cited a GAO report in 2007 that found big price hikes on drugs before a 2003 law added drug coverage to Medicare. The legislators also read a New York Times front-page story the other day about recent price increases.

After the initial report is done, the letter from Waxman and his colleagues wants GAO to come up with a way to monitor drug prices and report those findings to Congress periodically.

The drug trade group PhRMA defended its members' pricing. "It's pretty obvious that the calls to hold hearings or involve GAO are based on the misleading use of statistics and sensationalized media reports," spokesman Ken Johnson said in a written statement.

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