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Executives from 7 drug companies appear before the Senate. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Drug companies have cheered the Trump administration's proposed crackdown on industry middlemen, but some hedged this morning when asked whether that plan would cause them to lower their prices.

The big picture: Pharmaceutical executives have stayed firmly on message even amid some tough questioning from the Senate Finance Committee.

What they're saying: Several lawmakers have taken a tough tone against the 7 executives testifying this morning about drug prices.

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), for example, said AbbVie "protects the exclusivity of Humira like Gollum with his ring."
  • The pharmaceutical executives in attendance responded with many of the industry's standard arguments, including broadsides against pharmacy benefit managers and the drug rebate system PBMs rely on.

Between the lines: The Trump administration has proposed eliminating those PBM rebates in Medicare and Medicaid, saying that will also translate into lower sticker prices. Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the executives whether they would, in fact, lower prices as a result of the rebate proposal.

  • AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot and Merck CEO Ken Frazier both said their companies would lower drug prices if the rebate rule was applied to both the Medicare and commercial insurance markets. For now, it doesn't apply to commercial insurance.
  • Others said they similarly supported the rule, but hedged by saying costs would be lower for patients when they pick up the drug at the pharmacy — not necessarily that the health care system as a whole would be paying less.

Go deeper

Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.

2 hours ago - World

Beijing's antitrust push poses a problem for Western regulators

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government's anti-monopoly machinery presents a major challenge to U.S. and European regulators, a new book argues.

Why it matters: China's huge markets are attracting investment from multinational corporations and shaping the behavior of its own globe-trotting companies — giving international heft to the country's idiosyncratic antitrust enforcement and putting it on a collision course with Western-style regulation.