FiercePharmaPolitics—Democrats to name pricing bill in Elijah Cummings' honor

Elijah Cummings
The U.S. lost a drug pricing advocate last week as Rep. Elijah Cummings passed away at age 68. (AFGE/CC BY 2.0)

Welcome to the FiercePharma political roundup, where each Monday we’ll highlight developments in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that could affect how drugmakers operate. 

As pricing debates rage on, the U.S. lost a leading fighter in Rep. Elijah Cummings, who passed away Thursday at the age of 68 of longstanding health problems. Cummings was a frequent critic of the pharma industry and its pricing, and in 2017 met with President Donald Trump to push a plan for Medicare price negotiations. 

The meeting didn’t yield any drug pricing changes, but now Democrats are advancing their own bill in Cummings’ honor. Democratic lawmakers said they’ll name the wide-ranging bill, which includes Medicare negotiations and several other measures, after Cummings.

Democratic lawmakers are “well on our way to reconciling different versions and bringing something to the floor,” Pelosi said last week, as quoted by MarketWatch. After the bill meets that hurdle, though, it’d be “dead on arrival” in the Republican senate, Beacon Policy Advisors wrote, as quoted by the publication. 

At that point, Democrats would use the deadlock to “contrast their accomplishments, particularly on health care, with President Trump,” the analysts wrote.  

RELATED: CMS' Verma touts value-based pricing—not negotiation—for high drug prices 

Meanwhile, as the Democrats push their proposal for negotiations, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said at a summit last week the Trump administration wants to advance value-based pricing in pharma instead of Medicare negotiations. 

Verma said that while negotiation “works really well when there is competition,” it doesn’t work as well when the government is in charge of negotiating.  

"The President is pushing hard on drug pricing and addressing drug costs,” she added. “We’ve put out proposals. Congress is debating this right now. We hope they come up with a bipartisan solution to this.”