Pharmaceutical CEOs Testify Before Congress on Drug Pricing

Drug pricing showdown: Pharma CEOs set to testify before Congress on Capitol Hill Tuesday

Manatt’s Ian Spatz, a senior advisor with Manatt Health, spoke with CNBC ahead of a Senate Finance Committee hearing on February 26 in which CEOs from seven of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies provided testimony about drug pricing in the U.S.

The committee questioned these companies about drug pricing in recent years, which committee leader Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) calls “unsustainable.” Companies represented were AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Sanofi.

Spatz, whose pre-Manatt career includes time as an executive at Merck, recalled a similar hearing in 1994 in which Congress questioned tobacco companies about the danger of smoking cigarettes.

“Pharmaceutical companies are not tobacco companies, and they have a lot of value to society,” he said. “But many people’s impressions of CEOs testifying is shaped by that event.”

Spatz also made some predictions for the February 26 hearing and made some recommendations for how the pharmaceutical CEOs should handle the committee’s potentially challenging questions.

“I would recommend that [the CEOs] just be as straightforward as they can be,” he added. “Explain their business as clearly as they can. Credibility is the most important thing.

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