Pharma marketing had its moment

Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) put the spotlight on drug advertising. Cortez Masto inquired about marketing spending versus R&D expenditures and suggested that TV drug ads don’t fulfill their purpose in improving outcomes and helping patients seek treatment.

Biosimilars and generics got a boost

The Trump administration has always embraced the idea that more biosimilars and generics in the market could help control drug prices. During the hearing, several executives agreed, though that’s not exactly surprising, considering some represent companies that are also biosimilar and generic makers. Pfizer’s biosimilar unit, for example, brought in $769 million globally in 2018.

Rebates were in the crosshairs

While the hearing was meant to question the practices of the pharma industry, there was an awful lot of talk about rebates, the domain of PBMs. Nearly every pharma executive closed the hearing by pushing for action to reform the rebate system. Several senators seemed keen to make changes to rebates, with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) suggesting specific legislative action to get rid of rebates and require drugmakers to drop their prices by the amount of the rebate.

PBMs aren’t happy

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the trade group for PBMs, is on the defensive. As pharma execs and senators suggested reforms to the rebate and negotiating system between drugmakers, PBMs, and insurers, the PCMA made its case against gutting that system on Twitter.