‘We Look Like Chumps’: Senators Get Heated Over Idea To Tie U.S. Drug Prices To What Other Countries Pay
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday lawmakers discussed ideas to curb high drug prices, such as the international price index and using the patent system to increase competition in the marketplace. “I think we’re dangerously close to building a bipartisanship consensus around change,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said during the hearing.
GOP Senators Warn Drug Price Controls Could Come
Two Republican senators on Tuesday issued sharp warnings to the pharmaceutical industry about price controls. The GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday showed that the Trump administration's idea of an international reference model, aimed at just a subset of Medicare drugs, has transformed at least some Republican thinking on the drug-pricing policy debate. (Luthi, 5/7)
Patents Could Pose Challenge In Drug Price Debate
Senators expressed concern at a hearing Tuesday about how drug companies can accumulate patents and delay competition longer than Congress intended, but experts indicated drawing a line between promoting innovation and punishing abusive behavior might be difficult. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing comes after another drug price hearing earlier this year illuminated how one drug originally approved in 2003 now had more than 100 patents, including some that last until 2034 — a far longer period of monopoly sales than most lawmakers consider reasonable. (Siddons, 5/7)
Kaiser Health News:
Drug Industry Patents Go Under Senate Judiciary Committee’s Microscope
Congress isn’t making much headway in finding a solution to the problem of soaring prescription drug prices, but lawmakers from both parties are tinkering on the edges with legislation that aims to increase competition among drugmakers. A comprehensive piece of drug-pricing legislation is a high priority for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). And it could be introduced by mid-June, according to congressional staff. (Bluth, 5/7)
Graham: Doing Nothing On Drug Prices 'Unacceptable'
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that he expects Congress to take action this year to lower drug prices by cracking down on drug companies that delay the patent system to extend their monopolies. “I expect us to do something on patents and prescription drugs this year,” Graham said at a Judiciary Committee hearing. “I don’t know where the sweet spot is but doing nothing is unacceptable.” (Sullivan, 5/7)
Senators Tee Up Bipartisan Bill For FTC Probe Of Drug Patents
Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Richard Blumenthal will introduce a bill this week to let the FTC bring antitrust suits against drug companies that use patents to discourage competition and unfairly extend exclusivity. The bill will enable the FTC to examine tactics like patent thickets and product hopping, or shifting consumers onto slightly different brand-name drugs when older patents run out, Cornyn told POLITICO today. (Owermohle, 5/7)
Meanwhile, in other news —
Will The Speaker's Office Finally Spill The Beans On Its Drug Pricing Plan?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s health policy expert Wendell Primus is set to address a congressional drug pricing briefing Friday afternoon — his first public remarks since news broke that he has quietly been crafting the speaker’s own drug pricing plan. Primus has been in talks with the White House about his idea for using arbitration to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. And his efforts have single-handedly set off something of a drug-pricing-focused civil war in the Democratic Party between progressives, who hate Primus’ idea, and more moderate Democrats, who insist they’re open to all ideas to bring down drug prices. (Florko, 5/7)