KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Bill On FDA Oversight Of Compounding Pharmacies Gets Broad Backing As Hearings Move Closer

A bill to give the FDA greater authority over compounding pharmacies like the one behind a deadly meningitis outbreak gets broad -- including bipartisan -- backing, and a key committee chairman readies a hearing on the legislation.

Politico: Senate FDA Oversight Bill Has Bipartisan Backing
A Senate panel continued to build the case Thursday for giving the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to crack down on compounding pharmacies like the one behind the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak, pledging to pass a bill before Memorial Day (Norman, 5/10).

Medpage Today: Senate Bill On Compounding Coming Closer
The Senate appears ready to move on a bill that aims to provide greater oversight to large-scale compounders like the one at the center of last fall's fungal meningitis outbreak. Lawmakers received feedback Thursday on how they can fine-tune a draft bill that creates a new class of compounding pharmacies for those who act more like manufacturers. Stakeholders -- including the FDA, a public-policy think tank, and pharmacy groups -- were generally supportive of the draft senators released late last month. "Just from the general tone of what I hear, I think we're very, very close to having what we need," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said at a hearing on the issue (Pittman, 5/9).

Stateline: State Pharmacy Regulators Back Senate Bill On Drug Compounding
The organization representing state pharmacy regulators Thursday endorsed federal legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration authority over large compounding pharmacies, including the Massachusetts company whose tainted drugs last year sickened or killed 741 people in 20 states. A rare form of fungal meningitis was traced to contaminated steroids made and sold by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham (Ollove, 5/9).

In other news, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley wants closer scrutiny of firms that dig around Capitol Hill for information to use in financial market dealings --

The Washington Post: Sen. Grassley: 'Political Intelligence' Firms Need More Transparency, Disclosure
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who has been leading an inquiry into "political intelligence" firms, said this week that he is not seeking to dismantle such firms or vilify the actions of Capitol Hill staffers who have communicated with them. These firms hire armies of consultants to scour Washington for bits of information on federal actions that could influence the financial markets, and then sell the information to Wall Street investors. The industry was thrust into the spotlight in April, when a Washington brokerage called Height Securities revealed a key Medicare funding decision to its clients before the administration formally announced it, triggering a surge in health care stocks (Hamburger and ElBoghdady, 5/9).

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