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Big Pharma won its Capitol Hill hearing

7 top pharmaceutical CEOs testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee
Seven pharmaceutical CEOs testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Seven of the pharmaceutical industry's top CEOs came to Capitol Hill yesterday, spent a few hours pointing the finger at pharmacy benefit managers, and went home largely unscathed.

Between the lines: The pharma CEOs were able to stick to their plan. No one on the Finance Committee backed any of them into a corner, or knocked them very far off their talking points, or made them commit to anything they might regret. Their stocks were unaffected.

  • Most notably, the CEOs praised the Trump administration's plan to eliminate PBM rebates in Medicare. But they didn't commit to lowering their list prices as a result; some suggested that might only happen if Congress also eliminates rebates in commercial insurance.

Yes, but: Pharma isn't out of the woods. The headwinds it faced before the hearing — the general political climate, the nascent bipartisan interest in patent reform, and an unpredictable administration — are all still there. And this isn't the end of congressional oversight on drug prices.

My thought bubble: The committee's hearing may not have been industry's dream. In pharma's ideal world, it wouldn't have happened at all. But it was awfully close to the next-best thing.

Go deeper: Pharma's grip on the health care economy