Welcome to the FiercePharma political roundup, where each Monday we’ll highlight notable developments that could affect how drugmakers operate.
As the year comes to an end, lawmakers and government officials made a few moves on the drug pricing front last week. The House passed speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing plan, and Trump administration officials agreed to terms on the USMCA trade pact, plus more.
On the Pelosi plan, lawmakers passed the bill Thursday in a mostly party-line vote. Still, experts don’t believe it’ll gain any more momentum as the Senate is unlikely to take up the bill for a vote. Further, President Donald Trump has said he’ll veto it if it reaches his desk. Still, with its passing in the House, Democrats will be able to say on the campaign trail next year that they tried to fight high drug prices.
The plan calls for Medicare price negotiations, an international price index, fines for those drugmakers who don't negotiate and more. Activist billionaires John and Laura Arnold have spent tens of millions of dollars supporting Pelosi's bill and others, Stat recently highlighted. And former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed detailing how the plan would curtail innovation, following an industry line of attack against the bill.
Alternatively, in the Senate, lawmakers are working on other options that aren’t as aggressive as Pelosi’s pricing plan. Cowen analysts wrote last week that it doesn’t appear those options will get a floor vote this year.
Outside of those developments, the Trump administration agreed to scrap biologics exclusivity in trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico last week, angering pharma. With the move, the countries can individually set their biologics exclusivity rules.
The decision “declares open season” on innovative pharma companies and “sends a clear message that the U.S. government will stand idly by while foreign entities attack American intellectual property, American jobs and America’s global leadership in medical innovation," Jim Greenwood, head of industry group BIO, said in a statement.
Lastly, the Senate confirmed new FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn last week. Hahn is “very interested” in the ways the FDA can stimulate competition and lower costs, he said during a confirmation hearing.