Lawmakers question pharmaceutical companies about drug price hikes

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Lawmakers at Thursday's hearing questioned many practices by pharmaceutical companies. (WPVI)

Last year, the inflation rate - or the cost of living - went up less than 1 percent, but brand name drugs went up nearly 15 percent, and generics went up an average of 3 percent.

But some prices rose by much more.

Lawmakers at Thursday's hearing questioned many practices by pharmaceutical companies such as acquiring old, inexpensive drugs, and raising their prices or having complicated levels of pricing depending on whether hospitals, pharmacies or insurance companies are paying.
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Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals who raised the price of an anti-parasitic drug fiftyfold, pleaded the fifth before the House Oversight Committee, refusing to answer lawmakers' questions at a hearing on drug pricing.

"We have introduced a hospital discount program so for a 100-count bottle it would be roughly $35,000. For a 30-count bottle it would be roughly $11,000," said Nancy Retzlaff, Turing Pharmaceutical C.C.O.

When asked how much that would equate to for a pill, Retzlaff stated, "$750 is the list price," and the company is offering a discount up to 50 percent for hospitals.

Another drug maker argued that price hikes for his heart drugs would be taking money from hospitals - not patients.

They defended the prices, saying much of the money is going into research for new medications.

The committee will continue their investigation.
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