Top executives of several major pharmaceutical companies are slated to appear in front of the Senate Finance Committee in February and are likely to face tough questioning as both Congress and the White House intensify their efforts to rein in high drug costs.
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It's the first major public hearing for an industry accustomed to escaping much congressional scruinty -- apart from strong rhetoric from both parties -- due to its record-breaking lobbying expenditures. While CEOs of other drug companies have appeared in front of congressional panels in recent years, the upcoming hearing will include the world's largest firms and marks a key turning point in the federal discussion over prescription treatment prices.
Collectively, the CEOs -- and in Johnson & Johnson's case, its executive vice president -- earned more than $63 million in 2017. And most of the companies have moved forward with price hikes in 2019 on their most lucrative drugs, including treatments for insulin, arthritis and blood-clotting.
Below is a breakdown of the executives confirmed to appear on Feb. 26:
Attendee: CEO Rick Gonzalez
2017 salary: $22.6 million
Recent price increases: Raised the cost of Humira 6.2 percent in January 2019, after hiking the price 9.7 percent in 2018. Last year, the arthritis drug earned the North Chicago-based company $13.7 billion in the U.S. – a 10.7 percent increase over 2017 and 63.5 percent of AbbVie’s total sales for 2018.
Attendee: Chief Executive Albert Bourla
2017 Salary: $8.8 million as chief operating office (he was promoted to CEO in October 2018)
Recent price increases: The New York City-based company raised the cost of 41 drugs by varying amounts, from 3 percent to 9 percent. The price of the bulk of the treatments were hiked by 5 percent.
Attendee: CEO Giovanni Caforio
2017 salary: $18.7 million
Recent price increases: Raised the cost of Eliquis by 6 percent in January 2019. The blood-clot prevention drug earned the New York City-based company $3.8 billion in U.S. sales in 2018, a 30 percent year-over-year increase. The treatment accounts for 30 percent of Bristol-Myers’ total U.S. sales.
|BMY||BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO.||51.30||-0.06||-0.12%|
|JNJ||JOHNSON & JOHNSON||136.35||+0.66||+0.49%|
|MRK||MERCK & CO. INC.||79.43||+0.19||+0.24%|
Johnson & Johnson
Attendee: EVP Jennifer Taubert
2017 salary: Unavailable (her predecessor earned $19.4 million)
Recent price increases: Hiked the price of roughly 24 drugs in January 2019 – including psoriasis treatment Stelara -- on average between 6 percent and 7 percent. U.S. sales of Stelara grew 25.4 percent in 2018 to $3.5 billion.
Merck & Co.
Attendee: CEO Ken Frazier
2017 salary: $17.64 million
Recent price increases: Raised the price of five drugs as much as 6 percent in November 2016. Among them was its blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda, which earned $7.1 billion in sales in 2018 – an 88 percent year-over-year rise.
Attendee: CEO Pascal Soriot
2017 salary: $10.66 million
Recent price increases: The company plans to raise its costs in 2019, but the amounts were not immediately accessible.
Attendee: CEO Olivier Brandicourt
2017 salary: $9.8 million
Recent price increases: Increased the cost of its three major insulin drugs -- Lantus, Apidra and Toujeo SoloStar -- by as much as 5.2 percent in January 2019.