Where are we on prescription drug pricing reforms?
There has been a lot of congressional activity on prescription drug pricing. Since the beginning of the 116th Congress, there have been 11 hearings on prescription drug pricing; two more are scheduled for this week. Additionally, over 60 bills relating to prescription drug pricing have been introduced this Congress, and that number continues to grow. 10 of those bills have moved through committees. These bills have been marked up by the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Judiciary Committee, and the Ways & Means Committee. These bills are likely to be approved by the House, move forward through the Senate and make it to the President’s desk. In fact, two of the 10 bills (Purple Book Continuity Act of 2019 and Orange Book Transparency Act of 2019) will be voted on in the House on May 8. However, the bills moving through the House could be considered low hanging fruit as they focus on transparency, reporting and generics, rather than targeting drug pricing.
Democrats are also eyeing more aspirational prescription drug pricing policies. House Ways & Means Chair Richard Neal and Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone signaled that they are working with progressive Democrats to introduce a more far-reaching drug pricing package. This is expected to be a separate package that examines larger pricing reform ideas. Such a progressive package could make it out of the House, but likely has little chance of advancing in the Senate.
The White House and the Speaker’s office are also in communications on a prescription drug pricing package. If Republican and Democratic leaders can reach agreement on drug pricing reforms, bold change could be advanced. However, it remains unclear if Democrats are willing to sign onto a package that is led by or coordinated with the White House.
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