Top executives of several major pharmaceutical companies will appear on Tuesday in front of the Senate Finance Committee in what is expected to be a contentious hearing with tough questioning from members on both sides of the aisle as 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. Total profits for the firm's topped $40 billion in 2018.
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.||51.56||-0.05||-0.10%|
|JNJ||JOHNSON & JOHNSON||130.72||-0.61||-0.46%|
|MRK||MERCK & CO. INC.||84.69||+0.35||+0.41%|
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.