WASHINGTON — The House Oversight Committee on Monday announced an investigation into 12 pharmaceutical companies and their drug-pricing methods, billing it as one of the broadest inquiries in decades into how drug manufacturers set prices.

It is the fulfillment of a pledge from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the committee chairman, who has said he will make high prescription drug costs a top priority in his oversight agenda. One of the committee’s first hearings, set for Jan. 29, will focus on the same topic.

“For years, drug companies have been aggressively increasing prices on existing drugs and setting higher launch prices for new drugs while recording windfall profits,” Cummings said in a statement. “The goals of this investigation are to determine why drug companies are increasing prices so dramatically, how drug companies are using the proceeds, and what steps can be taken to reduce prescription drug prices.”

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Seven drug companies received requests for information about a single drug: AstraZeneca, Teva, Celgene, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and Mallinckrodt. Amgen, Pfizer, and Novo Nordisk received information requests regarding two of their drugs. Sanofi and AbbVie each received requests for information regarding three. (AbbVie also plays a role in marketing Imbruvica, the Johnson & Johnson lymphoma drug under scrutiny.)

Many of the drugs included are among the most-cited examples of alleged price-gouging — including Revlimid, Celgene’s multiple myeloma drug, and Humira, an arthritis medicine manufactured by AbbVie.

Cummings is also joining the chorus of lawmakers questioning the high price of insulin. Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, which collectively control 90 percent of the insulin market, are all facing questions from Cummings over their insulin products.

While committee staff did not release the full letters to each drug company, Cummings’s statement said the requests would seek information about price increases, research investments, and “corporate strategies to preserve market share and pricing power.”

Cummings’s announcement is the latest sign that drug pricing will be a marquee issue on Capitol Hill. Numerous Democrats — many of whom are eyeing runs for president in 2020 — have introduced legislation aimed at lowering drug costs in recent weeks.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the new chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has also identified drug prices as a priority and has signed onto several bipartisan bills on topics ranging from drug importation from Canada to ensuring generic drug manufacturers can access samples of brand-name drugs for testing purposes.

Nicholas Florko contributed reporting.

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  • Januvia 100mg. tablet once daily for type II diabetes should have been off patent by now and has an extension until 2022. $442.00 for 30 tabs . Seniors with part D medicare now have a $400. deductible. So? Drug companies get that every year up front $442.00 and then a negotiated price of $94/month through Humana. It is the lobbyists of Pharms that tell congress how to save in medicare Part D but are actually ripping off the consumer and keep their patent extensions worked out with congressional committees and FDA kickbacks. Too our congressman don’t have these same “SAVINGS”. Most people who read this won’t get it. Just saying.

  • It’s about time to get aggressive on high cost of Humalog Insulin that I use to survive dealing with Type 1 diabetes 24 hours a day for past 44 years.

  • Lev, This investigation will be useless to the consumer unless they fully investigate the PBM’s. Does this Oversight Committee not know what occured
    in Ohio,Kentucky,West Virginia,Arkansas,Louisiana and who knows how many other states by the PBM’s ? Maybe someone should tell them !

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