FiercePharmaPolitics⁠—Even with chaos in D.C., lawmakers are aiming for a pricing win this year

Washington, D.C. National Capitol Building
While many market watchers don't expect much pricing consensus from Congress in 2020, the year could bring some changes. (Getty/tupungato)

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. 

While many market watchers don’t expect Congress to pass drug-pricing legislation this year—what with impeachment, campaigns and foreign policy dominating the news flow in Washington—lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aren't ready to give up, Bloomberg reports

It’s unlikely we’ll see Congress implement a comprehensive plan to lower prices this year, according to experts, but lawmakers could come together to implement an out-of-pocket cap for Medicare patients as a starting point, the news service says. And as Bloomberg also notes, Republicans and Democrats both want to lower drug prices, but they're trying to avoid giving the other side a political win. 

Previously, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote that he expects “minimal action on drug costs” this year. Instead, market watchers will mostly be tracking the election and its implications for pharma throughout 2020, he said. 

Meanwhile, pharma’s price-hike tally keeps climbing. As of Friday, drugmakers had raised stickers on 499 products, according to GoodRx. The increases are to list prices; net price changes will vary. 

RELATED: Pharma price hikes rang in 2020, but how will Washington respond? 

Outside of Congress, the Trump administration has drug-pricing ambitions of its own, including importation and an international pricing index (IPI). But Bloomberg’s Shira Stein reports the Department of Health and Human Services has put the IPI proposal on hold for now, because publishing it would hurt Senate drug-pricing legislation from senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden. The obstacle? A method the Congressional Budget Office uses to calculate potential savings, according to the report. 

In California, meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsome unveiled a proposal to create a state-owned generic drug label that could purchase drugs at better prices. An expert told FierceHealthcare the idea wouldn’t likely bring major changes to pricing dynamics. 

And as those proposals and others swirl, Stat reported details about the conservative group American Action Network, which is running ads in support of the Republican bill in the House of Representatives. Originally, the group strictly opposed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s aggressive plan, but now it’s come to support some measures, including an out-of-pocket cap for patients. 

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