Weekly Policy Update: Drug Pricing Bills Pass Key Senate Committees
By: Colorado BioScience Association Date: 07/08/2019
Before the holiday, both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced legislative packages aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. CBSA has been working closely with our members and partners to prioritize our biggest concerns and advocate for improvements to these proposals.
On June 26th the HELP Committee marked up and passed S. 1895, the Lower Health Care Costs Act. While the proposal aims to lower health care costs across multiple industries (with sections focused on ending surprise medical billing and improving public health), it also contains notable drug pricing provisions. During the hearing, the Committee adopted an amendment on drug pricing transparency that includes a concerning requirement for companies to report confidential business information. CBSA continues to work with our partners to message our concerns and push for changes to the transparency amendment and other concerning provisions before the bill reaches the floor.
The same week the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced S. 1416, the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act. While the bill is not perfect, the version that passed the Committee includes a number of changes that mitigate some of the industry’s concerns. Instead of giving the FTC the authority to bring antitrust action against a manufacturer for filing lawful, valid patents on product improvements, the current version places a cap of 20 patents that a brand biologic manufacturer can claim in litigation. (Note that the cap is only on certain patents that are filed more than 4 years after approval of the drug). And in return, biosimilar applicants have to follow all the steps of the “patent dance.” This change in the bill is a significant improvement from where things started.
Drug pricing proposals continue to be front and center at both the state and federal level, and will likely be a topic when CBSA heads to Washington, DC for the We Work For Health Summit later this month. The Association will continue to weigh in with policymakers to ensure that the policies put forward protect patient access and choice and will not stifle medical innovation.