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Senator Hassan Among Lawmakers Who Questioned Top Drug Companies On Pricing

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New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan was among the lawmakers asking questions of the nation's biggest drug companies in Washington today.

While much of the hearing before the Senate Finance Committee focused on the high price of prescription drugs in the U.S., Hassan focused her questions on the sales tactics the companies used when promoting opioids to doctors.

In one exchange with Jennifer Taubert, a vice president at Johnson & Johnson, Hassan accused the company of peddling a debunked theory called pseudoaddiction, which held that when doctors see patients beginning to show signs of opioid addiction, the solution was to increase their dose -- and boost sales.

Taubert said she wasn't familiar with the term and was beginning to describe how opioid sales make up only a small percentage of the company's business when Senator Hassan cut her off.

"Ok let me stop you right there," said Hassan, "because my constituents don't care about the percentage. They care about the behavior to maximize sales.”

Hassan went on to list the figures for opioids deaths across the country and in New Hampshire.

The state of New Hampshire, along with several towns and cities, have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid crisis.

“It is hard for me to take the industry's goal here as promoting good health seriously when it's behavior to maximize sales of opioids created an epidemic,” said Hassan.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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