FiercePharmaPolitics—House to vote on Pelosi plan as GOP trots out rival bill

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House lawmakers may have a drug pricing showdown this week. (Pixabay)

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. 

This week could bring a drug pricing showdown in the House of Representatives as Democrats plan to support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill in a vote and Republicans aim to unveil their own rival proposal. The Hill reports that Pelosi's plan is expected to pass on party lines but die in the Senate.

In their rival proposal, House Republicans plan to amplify the message of a bipartisan effort now working in the Senate, The Washington Post reports. The Senate plan proposes an out-of-pocket cap for Medicare, plus other changes for federal payers and increased transparency for pharma middlemen. It won't contain “poison pills” that might garner opposition and is a “sincere proposal,” aides told the newspaper. 

Meanwhile, last week the White House and others continued their assault against Pelosi’s plan, which calls for Medicare price negotiations, an international pricing index, fines for drugmakers who refuse to negotiate and more. It's an aggressive plan that would dramatically affect how drugmakers price and operate.

In a new analysis, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) said the proposal could lead to 100 fewer drug launches over the next decade, representing about one-third of the total rollouts now predicted over that time frame. By reducing access to new drugs, the bill would lower average life expectancy in the U.S. by four months, according to the CEA. 

RELATED: Pelosi pricing plan will yield 100 fewer new drugs, White House predicts 

The bill would lower drug prices, the CEA said, “but the threat it poses to continued medical innovation will harm American patients in ways that far outweigh any benefits.” 

It wasn’t just government officials hitting the plan. More than 135 biotech CEOs wrote to House lawmakers warning against the effects of the bill. They called it an “extreme proposal” that’ll “upend the ecosystem of U.S. biomedical innovation, destroying our ability to attract private investment dollars that allow us to develop new treatments and change the course of healthcare delivery for so many patients.” 

Besides debate on the pricing proposals, the Trump administration also considered changing biologics exclusivity rules to win support for a trade deal with Mexico and Canada, The Wall Street Journal reports. Biologics are protected for 12 years in the U.S., but the current trade proposal calls for 10 years of protections, and Democrats want the number reduced further, according to the report.  

Lastly, Kaiser Permanente executives shared some of their experiences with biosimilars. By eschewing rebates, the group has been able to move to the cheaper biologic copycats much faster than the healthcare industry as a whole has.

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