Comparing drug prices in the United States with those in other countries can be tricky because the health care systems are so different. In the United States, negotiations over drug prices are fragmented across tens of thousands of health plans and employers, while European countries rely on a centralized negotiator. And while many prescription drugs can be bought for much less at European pharmacies, European countries do not necessarily offer broad insurance coverage for those drugs for their citizens.
Sarah Ryan, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, the drug industry’s main lobbying group, said in a statement that new medicines arrived faster in the United States than in any other country. She blamed middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers for high out-of-pocket costs for Americans.
The three executives set to testify on Thursday are the latest to appear before Mr. Sanders since he became the health committee’s chairman early last year. In March, Moderna’s chief executive testified about the price of his company’s Covid-19 vaccine, and the chief executives of three major insulin manufacturers — Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi — appeared in front of the committee at a hearing in May.
Michelle Mello, a health policy expert at Stanford Law School, said that lawmakers could use the hearing to build momentum around further legislative action on drug pricing, such as expanding the Medicare price negotiation program to encompass more drugs.
“We could be doing so much more with this tool,” she said.