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House Likely to Pass Pelosi’s Drug Pricing Bill Next Week

Posted 05 December 2019 | By Zachary Brennan 

House Likely to Pass Pelosi’s Drug Pricing Bill Next Week

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democrat colleagues said they will pass a wide-ranging drug pricing bill that many in the pharmaceutical industry have warned would be catastrophic. However, the bill is unlikely to make headway in the Republican-controlled Senate and President Donald Trump has already said he opposes the bill.

“We have now received enough guidance from CBO to bring the Lower Drug Costs Now Act to the Floor and to reinvest its savings in one of the most transformational improvements to Medicare since its creation,” Pelosi and colleagues said in a statement. “We are going to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices, and make those prices available to Americans with private insurance as well as Medicare beneficiaries.  American seniors and families shouldn’t have to pay more for their medicines than what Big Pharma charges in other countries for the same drugs.”

The Congressional Budget Office previously said the bill would save hundreds of billions, but would also lead to a reduction of approximately 8 to 15 new drugs coming to market over the next 10 years. The pharmaceutical industry then did its own calculation, finding the bill would kill 56 new drugs over 10 years. And a White House report from earlier this week said the Pelosi bill would halt the funding necessary to develop 100 new drugs.

The Pelosi bill advanced through committees on party-line votes.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he’s updating his own drug pricing bill, which will be re-released this month with improvements to the out-of-pocket cap “by giving seniors and Americans with disabilities more flexibility when it comes to upfront costs.”

But Bernstein analysts maintain that the impact of the Senate bill on the biopharma industry is likely to be “negligible” and will impact about 2% of drug sales. 

Similarly, the Trump administration’s International Pricing Index for Medicare Part B drugs, which may be released as a proposal next month, but is expected to face a legal challenge, will affect about 3% of sales, according to Bernstein analysts, who note that it’s “uneven in its effects – impacting few companies sharply but having very modest effects on most.”

And another Trump plan to allow the importation of certain drugs from Canada and elsewhere is also expected to be unveiled next month, although Canada's acting ambassador to the US has warned that Canada is too small of a market to make a major impact on drug prices in the US and it cannot increase its domestic pharmaceutical drug supply to meet US demand. 

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