Congress continues to address the challenge of rising drug prices

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on strategies to reduce prescription drug costs and encourage innovation and competition in the market. The key witness was Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who provided additional information on the administration’s blueprint to lower drug prices released in May.

As part of the President’s plan, there was speculation that some pharmaceutical companies might announce major drug price reductions, however this has not occurred. The American Hospital Association submitted statements to the committee urging Congress to pass the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act to prevent anti-competitive behaviors used to block and delay entry of generic drugs and H.R. 4392 to prevent a 30 percent reduction in Medicare payments to certain hospitals for outpatient drugs purchased under the 340B drug savings program, among other actions.

Hospital spending on inpatient drugs increased over 38 percent per admission between 2013 and 2015, more than three times the increase in spending for retail prescription drugs over the same period.