March 18th, 2010
A Senate Democrat asked top drugmakers on Wednesday to explain why Americans pay higher prices for prescription drugs than patients do in other developed nations.
Senator Herb Kohl, who chairs the Special Committee on Aging, sent letters to AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi-Aventis.
Kohl said Americans on average pay twice as much as people in other industrialized countries.
“While I firmly believe that drug quality should not be sacrificed for cost, the large discrepancies in the cost of identical drugs cannot be explained by differences in production or manufacturing,” Kohl wrote to the companies.
Some Democrats have attacked drugmakers as the U.S. Congress works on an overhaul of U.S. healthcare system.
The pharmaceutical industry has pledged to pay $80 billion over 10 years in price cuts and other concessions to help fund wider insurance coverage as part of a healthcare overhaul under consideration in Congress.
Some lawmakers have criticized that amount as a small price to pay for a $315 billion-a-year industry that stands to gain tens of millions of new customers if insurance coverage expands. Democrats are trying to pass a final bill for President Barack Obama to sign into law in the coming weeks.