By Michael Erman
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Drugmakers Pfizer Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and Sanofi SA said on Wednesday that their chief executives plan to testify at a Senate hearing on rising prescription drug prices later this month.
They join Merck & Co CEO Ken Frazier, who said on Tuesday that he would testify at the Feb. 26 hearing.
Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday that Jennifer Taubert, its head of global pharmaceuticals, would represent the healthcare conglomerate at the hearing.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, ranking member of the committee on Monday invited executives from seven pharmaceutical companies to testify at the hearing.
The other companies invited to send executives are AbbVie Inc and AstraZeneca Plc .
Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt currently serves as chairman of drug industry lobby group PhRMA. Bristol-Myers CEO Giovanni Caforio is the group’s chairman-elect. Albert Bourla, who became Pfizer CEO last month, will represent the largest U.S. drugmaker at the hearing.
The United States, which leaves drug pricing to market competition, has higher prices than in other developed countries, where governments directly or indirectly control costs. That makes it by far the world’s most lucrative market for manufacturers.
Congress has been targeting the pharmaceutical industry over the rising cost of prescription drugs for U.S. consumers, particularly since Democrats took over the House of Representatives in January.
Drug pricing is also a top priority of the administration of President Donald Trump, who had made it a central issue of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Drugmakers have slowed and limited U.S. price increases as scrutiny on their practices has intensified over the past few years.
They nonetheless increased prices on hundreds of drugs in January, including a 6.2 percent increase on the world’s top-selling drug – AbbVie’s rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira – and hikes on insulin prices by Sanofi and Novo Nordisk.
(Reporting by Michael Erman in New York and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)