Beginning at 10:15 a.m. ET Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee questioned the CEOs of some of America’s biggest pharmaceutical companies regarding the soaring cost of prescription drugs. While framed as a bipartisan effort to address a long-burgeoning healthcare emergency, the hearing will ultimately remain a largely performative act due to one tiny, conveniently overlooked factor: The senators conducting the hearing pocket thousands of dollars from these companies every year.
From EpiPens to insulin, America is amidst a prescription cost crisis. There’s no questioning that. There’s also no questioning that such an issue will become a linchpin of healthcare policy moving nearer to the 2020 election, so much so that lawmakers from both parties have begun demanding change to the current system, which continues to fail the American people with the highest out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in the world.
Executives from AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Sanofi are among the pharmaceutical companies testifying before the Senate Finance Committee today. The people they’re testifying in front of? Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who, in 2018, received $131,800 from the pharmaceutical industry. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), who, in 2018, received $156,00 from the pharmaceutical industry. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who, in 2018, received $188,763 from the pharmaceutical industry. To name a few.
The only bipartisan cooperation here is that Republicans and Democrats alike benefit from a system that, in the span of almost a decade, can catapult the price of a life-saving EpiPen from $57 to $600.
“We’ve all seen the finger pointing,” said Iowa Senator and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in his opening statement. “But, like most Americans, I’m sick and tired of the blame game.”