LIVE: Top pharmaceutical executives testify in front of Senate committee on drug prices

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is set to hold a hearing Thursday morning that is titled “Why Does the United States Pay, by Far, the Highest Prices in the World for Prescription Drugs?”

Witnesses include chief executives of three major pharmaceutical companies: Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato; Merck CEO Robert Davis; and Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Chris Boerner.

(Watch live by clicking the video player above at 10 a.m.)

“The simple truth is that the American people are sick and tired of paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” said Sanders. “I look forward to a very productive hearing, and hope very much that the CEOs of these major pharmaceutical companies will take a serious look at these incredible price discrepancies and work with us to substantially reduce the prices they charge the American people for these and other prescription drugs.”

Sanders said Merck charges diabetes patients $6,900 for Januvia when that exact same product can be purchased for $900 in Canada and $200 in France. Johnson & Johnson charges Americans with arthritis $79,000 for Stelara, while that same product can be purchased for $16,000 in the United Kingdom. Bristol Myers Squibb charges patients in America $7,100 for Eliquis, while that same product can be purchased for $900 in Canada and just $650 in France.

Due to the high cost of prescription drugs, one out of four Americans cannot afford the medicine their doctors prescribe, Sanders said. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry has spent, over the past 25 years, some $8.5 billion on lobbying and over $700 million on campaign contributions.

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