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Sanders calls insulin makers, PBMs to testify

Senator Bernie Sanders gestures as Senator Bill Cassidy listens at a HELP Committee hearing

Sanders and HELP Committee ranking member Bill Cassidy at the Moderna hearing in March. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate HELP Committee announced Friday that executives from drugmakers and PBMs will testify on May 10 about the cost of insulin.

Why it matters: The move shows Chairman Bernie Sanders is continuing to use his bully pulpit to try to lower drug prices.

  • Notably, PBM executives are coming too, signaling a broader focus from Sanders than just his traditional broadsides against pharma.
  • Dave Ricks from Eli Lilly, Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen from Novo Nordisk and Paul Hudson from Sanofi make up the insulin manufacturer CEOs testifying.
  • David Joyner from CVS Health, Adam Kautzner from Express Scripts and Heather Cianfrocco from OptumRx are the PBM executives.

What they're saying: Sanders acknowledged that insulin makers recently announced price reductions, but said he wants to followup to make sure patients feel the lower prices (which could be where PBMs come in).

  • "We must make certain, however, that those price reductions go into effect in a way that results in every American getting the insulin they need at an affordable price," Sanders said in a statement.
  • "But that’s not all. We have got to substantially lower the price of all prescription drugs."

What's next: HELP is also supposed to hold a markup soon on PBM legislation — but it's not clear when exactly that will be after the markup was pushed back.

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