Historical testimony reveals that lawmakers have long questioned pharmaceutical companies about rising drug prices, CNN reported Monday.
Hearings led by Senator Estes Kefauver in 1959 and 1960 were the first to scrutinise pricing trends in the pharmaceutical sector, while executives from AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, J Merck & Co., Pfizer and Sanofi are set to testify before Congress later this week.
"Every decade since the Kefauver hearings has seen at least one set of congressional hearings into the increasing prices of prescription drugs," said Johns Hopkins University drug-industry historian Jeremy Greene.
"[Drugmakers] were advised that whenever the senators mentioned high prices, just mention research and how difficult it is, how expensive it is," explained Donald Light, a health policy professor at Rowan University, adding "since 1959, that is the repeated and successful theme of Big Pharma."
The Kefauver Harris Amendment of 1962, passed after the initial hearings on drug pricing, set standards for medical trials and laid the groundwork for the modern drug-approval process, but cost-control measures were not included in the final bill.
Austin Smith, then president of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, argued that such legal measures were not necessary because drug prices were rising at a slower rate than inflation.
To read more NewsPoints articles, click here.