White House Announces Drug Prices Forum Amid Outcry

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a public forum on drug prices amid intensifying scrutiny of the issue.

The forum in Washington on Nov. 20 will bring together drug companies, insurers, consumers and other stakeholders to discuss the issue.

In announcing the event, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pointed to the high cost of specialty drugs that treat complex conditions.

“The high and growing cost of drugs has created hardship for families, employers, and states,” the invitation states. “Specialty medications represent only 1% of all prescriptions but, in 2014, these medications resulted in over 31% of all drug spending.

“[HSS] Secretary [Sylvia Mathews] Burwell is asking stakeholders to share information as to how to address this complex problem,” it continues.

The forum comes amid growing outcry over drug prices. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have made the issue a focus and denounced drug companies for their prices. Both have put forward proposals that the pharmaceutical industry strongly opposes, like allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices down.