Sens. Smith, Warren Continue to Demand Answers on Trump Administration’s Failed Promise of “Voluntary, Massive Drops” in Prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. [07/02/2018]—U.S. Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are continuing their investigation of the Trump Administration’s promises of “voluntary, massive drops” after these reductions in drug prices fail to materialize.

The senators have reached out to nine Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and drug distributors asking for their response to allegations by Secretary Azar during a Senate Health Committee hearing that they are setting uproadblocks that are preventing drug companies from voluntarily lowering their drug prices. This latest effort follows similar letters previously sent toSecretary Azar and to drug manufacturers.

“These are extremely disturbing allegations by Secretary Azar,” wrote Sens. Smith and Warren. “If they are true, these allegations suggest that PBMs and drug distributors are acting to maintain high list prices in order to maintain high profit margins, potentially raising antitrust concerns.

“If Secretary Azar’s allegations are untrue, he owes the HELP Committee and Finance Committee an explanation for why he publicly and repeatedly raised them in his testimony.”

In the Senate Health Committee hearing, Sec. Azar indicated that many drug companies were considering lowering their prices but were running into resistance from PBMs and drug distributors when asked about Trump’s promise in May that “we’re going to have some of the big drug companies in two weeks and they’re going to announce … voluntary massive drops in prices.” He repeated the same allegation during a Senate Finance hearing.

Sens. Smith and Warren note numerous public statements that PBMs have made about their interest in lowering drug prices, and the senators are asking PBMs and distributors if they have engaged in conversations with drug companies about reducing prices, if they have received any commitments from drug manufacturers to lower list prices from drug manufacturers, if they have resisted these offers, and how these PBMs and distributors would react to offers by drug companies to lower list prices.

You can access text of the letters here.