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NEWS: Sanders Announces CEOs of Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol Myers Squibb to Voluntarily Testify Before HELP Committee

The hearing to discuss the outrageously high prices of prescription drugs in America is scheduled for Thursday, February 8

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) announced today that Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato and Merck CEO Robert Davis have reconsidered their positions and have agreed to join Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Chris Boerner at a hearing the committee will be holding on the outrageously high price of prescription drugs in the United States. The hearing is now scheduled for Thursday, February 8 at 10:00 a.m. ET. 

At a press conference yesterday, Sanders had announced that the HELP Committee would be voting to subpoena the CEOs of Merck and Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday, January 31 after they declined an invitation from a majority of the HELP Committee.

Since the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck have now agreed to voluntarily testify in front of the HELP Committee alongside the CEO of Bristol Myers Squibb, the HELP Committee will no longer hold a subpoena vote on January 31.

Sanders said: “Let me thank the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck for agreeing to join the CEO of Bristol Myers Squibb and voluntarily testify before the HELP Committee on the high price of prescription drugs in America. The use of a subpoena was clearly a last resort and I’m delighted that these CEOs will be coming into our committee voluntarily.”

Sanders continued: “The American people are sick and tired of paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs – sometimes 10 times more for the same product that people in other countries pay. Today, Merck charges diabetes patients $6,900 for Januvia when that exact same product can be purchased for just $900 in Canada and $200 in France. Johnson & Johnson charges Americans with arthritis $79,000 for Stelara, while that same product can be purchased for just $16,000 in the United Kingdom. Bristol Myers Squibb charges patients in America $7,100 for Eliquis, while that same product can be purchased for just $900 in Canada and just $650 in France. I hope very much that the CEOs of these major pharmaceutical companies will take a serious look at these incredible price discrepancies and work with us to substantially reduce the prices they charge the American people for these and other prescription drugs. I look forward to a very productive hearing.”

Under the chairmanship of Sanders, the HELP Committee has focused on lowering drug prices in America. The committee has already heard testimony from four pharmaceutical CEOs representing Moderna, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi.  

Sanders and the committee were pleased that the CEO Moderna committed during a HELP Committee hearing that Moderna would set up a patient assistance program so that no one in America would have to pay for their COVID vaccine out of pocket. In a separate HELP Committee hearing last year, the CEO of Eli Lilly committed to Chairman Sanders that his company would not raise prices on existing insulin products after a prior commitment to substantially lower prices for the insulin they manufacture.