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Democrats, Republicans Prep to Take Up Drug Prices Together

Posted 07 November 2018 | By Zachary Brennan 

Democrats, Republicans Prep to Take Up Drug Prices Together

Following the House’s transition Tuesday to a Democratic majority, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Wednesday that he will work with House Democrats on crafting a plan to tackle high prescription drug prices.
 
“I can’t imagine that won’t be on the agenda,” McConnell said regarding prescription drug prices. Potential House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also further indicated that representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle will look to find common ground to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
 
On a more immediate note, however, McConnell also said that Congress still has to finish funding the government during the lame duck session. And that includes funding for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
 
If Congress deadlocks on appropriations, then FDA will be funded under a Continuing Resolution (CR)
until the new Congress can address spending issues, according to the nonprofit Alliance for a Stronger FDA. Under a CR, FDA is limited to activities that were part of the FY 18 FDA budget. 
 
Turnover
 
In addition to the retirement of the biopharma ally Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Senate also lost a biopharma foe in Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). The medical device industry also lost an ally in Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), who lost a close race to Dean Phillips (D-MN). In terms of new representatives, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala (D-FL) flipped a House seat.
 
In addition to the newcomers, there will be turnover at the top of all the House committees with the Democrats taking over the majority.
 
The Alliance for a Stronger FDA also predicts that Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) will remain the senior Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee.

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