The CEOs of seven major drug companies faced questioning Tuesday from U.S. Senators about high prescription drug prices.
Some of the companies had asked for a private meeting to explain their pricing policies, but lawmakers insisted the CEOs appear in public or risk subpoenas, the Associated Press reported.
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"You pharma executives are here because the way you do business is unacceptable and unsustainable. Ten companies accounted for half of all profits in the health care sector last fall. Nine of those ten were drug manufacturers," ranking Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon said in his prepared statement.
In statements submitted to the committee, the CEOs said drug development is a risky and expensive process and that prices reflect investment in research and development, the AP reported.
Tuesday's hearing is the first time lawmakers have called on top drug company executives to account for rising prices that cause difficulties for millions of Americans and are a drain on Medicare and Medicaid.
The public hearing suggests that Congress and the White House are moving toward legislation this year to control drug costs, according to the AP.
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