FiercePharmaPolitics—Pelosi bill goes to full House, anti-importation campaign backed by PhRMA

U.S. Capitol at dusk
In this week's FiercePharmaPolitics, a House committee passed the Democrats' strong drug pricing proposal. (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. 

Even with impeachment headlines dominating news in Washington, the House Ways and Means Committee approved House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's drug pricing proposal, which PhRMA ardently opposes. It's only an initial step for the bill as it's now set for a full House vote by the end of the month, CNBC reports. As it stands, experts believe the bill would be unlikely to pass the Senate.

Pelosi's aggressive plan might prevent between eight and 15 drugs reaching the market over the next 10 years––but Democrats think that might not be such a bad thing if it drives down costs. Here's what Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, of Florida, said in a hearing last week: “Three hundred forty-five billion dollars in savings versus the cost of eight to 15 fewer drugs over 10 years. I frankly think it’s worth it.”

The proposal calls for government negotiations on up to 250 drugs per year, financial penalties to get drugmakers to cooperate, measures to roll back certain price hikes and an index pegging U.S. prices to those in other countries, among other proposals. Democrats recently tweaked it from a previous version after hearing concerns from progressives that it wasn't tough enough, the Hill reports.

Meanwhile, as lawmakers debate numerous drug pricing ideas in Washington, the administration has pushed importation in recent months. The National Sheriff's Association has a campaign opposing the measure, but Bloomberg reported last week that a PhRMA-backed nonprofit funded the campaign. 

While it's not a Washington, D.C. development, Amgen this week said it's not just discounting its PCSK9 drug Repatha, but slashing its list price across the board. The company made a splash a year ago by cutting the price of the cholesterol from $14,520 to $5,850—even though it maintained the pricier option for insurers who preferred it for their own purposes, along with what were likely steep discounts. At the time, Amgen vowed to do away with the $14,520 price tag altogether by the end of 2020. Amgen's making good on that promise earlier than expected.