Welcome to the Fierce Pharma political roundup, where each Monday we’ll highlight developments in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that could affect drug pricing and how drugmakers operate.
As COVID-19 case counts reach previously unseen highs and vaccines show more promise than ever, the coronavirus team assembled by President-elect Joe Biden is planning to meet with vaccine developers this week. Still, the transition process is getting off to a rocky start.
Biden's COVID-19 advisors will meet with vaccine developers including Pfizer, incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said on MSNBC's Meet the Press. Pfizer last week reported promising early efficacy figures for its vaccine, and Moderna followed up Monday with an analysis that its vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing illness.
But a vaccine rollout won’t bring an immediate end to the pandemic that’s currently raging around the U.S. On Sunday, the U.S. reported more than 135,000 cases, bringing the overall tally to 11.1 million, according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, the transition between the Trump and Biden federal coronavirus responses seems to be off to a difficult start as the Trump team doesn't plan to meet with the task force for the incoming administration, an official said. White House deputy communications director Brian Morgenstern told CBS News’ Weijia Jiang there are no plans for the Trump administration’s COVID task force to meet with the incoming Biden group.
NEW: No current plans for WH COVID-19 task force to meet w/ Biden team.@BMorgenstern45 to me: “Respectfully, meet about what? Their plan, aside from devastating and counterproductive lockdowns and an unconstitutional mask mandate, was plagiarized from the Trump Administration.”— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) November 16, 2020
Biden unveiled a COVID advisory board last week, and said in a statement the situation “demands a robust and immediate federal response.” The outbreak is accelerating and “does not respect dates on the calendar,” he said, noting that he's not set to become president until January.
“Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration—starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is,” Biden added.
NIAID director Anthony Fauci said over the weekend that the Trump and Biden COVID teams should indeed meet, likening the transition to "passing a baton in a race." Biden advisory board co-chair Vivek Murthy told Fox News’ Chris Wallace the dialogue is “critical” and should start “as soon as possible.”
Outside the critical topic of COVID-19, experts are still dissecting the election results and what they could mean for drug pricing. With Republicans in a position to keep the Senate, certain measures—such as Medicare pricing negotiations or drug price caps—could become “untenable,” Bernstein analysts wrote to clients after an expert call last week. In the near term, COVID-19 will “dominate the agenda," the analysts wrote, noting that healthcare companies are partners in the fight.