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Republicans Rebuke Pelosi Drug Pricing Bill

Posted 25 September 2019 | By Zachary Brennan 

Republicans Rebuke Pelosi Drug Pricing Bill

United behind the pharmaceutical industry’s criticism of a wide-ranging drug pricing bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Republicans on the subcommittee on health of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce on Wednesday criticized the bill at length and referred to the negotiation provisions as price controls.

Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), however, countered that the bill, known as HR 3, includes many provisions that President Donald Trump and other Republicans have already supported. She also explained how Republicans previously supported allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs to negotiate prices of prescription drugs, which has resulted in significant savings.

But Republicans held to the industry talking point that any wide-scale price reductions will inevitably decrease investments in pharmaceutical research and development in the US, and that adding a layer of uncertainty could chill early-phase investments. They also stressed that the penalties included in the Pelosi bill would stifle innovation.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) said that Trump wants to sign a bill that’ll work “but this is partisan politics at its worst.”

Multiple Republicans also used the example of how the bill could set the US up for situations seek in UK, which can block access to certain costly therapeutics that could make a difference in patients’ lives. Others noted how difficult it could be for the Department of Health and Human Services to lower prices via comparisons with other countries.

But Democrats countered that the current state of pharmaceutical prices is not acceptable, noting how the US pays significantly more for pharmaceuticals than any other country in the world.

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said: “Do we need the government to intervene or to maintain the status quo? Concerns about innovation are valid. But the concerns about price setting? My view is the price setting is being done by the pharmaceutical industry. Egregious overreach from the industry has brought us here.”

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) added that the “thirst for something real is beginning to overwhelm the inside game that’s been played for so many years … that’s why we’re at this point – so many families have had enough.”

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is set to unveil his own bill related to drug pricing later on Wednesday. Previous bills from the Senate Judiciary Committee were noted for their lack of impact on industry.

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