Legislation to Cut Drug Costs Focuses on Generics, Medicare Negotiation, Importation


The focus on high drug prices continues as several lawmakers have introduced legislation that would increase access to generic drugs, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and allow the importation of less expensive drugs from other countries.

Drugmakers are under heavy scrutiny by lawmakers, consumers, medical professionals and the president for their pricing practices. On Jan. 31, President Donald Trump told drugmakers at a White House meeting they are charging too much for their products. The increased focus on drug prices was spurred by situations where the prices of older pharmaceutical products increased significantly. Most recently, generic drugmaker Mylan Inc. came under attack for increasing the cost of its EpiPen allergy injection by 400 percent in nine years.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Brian Rye told me in a Feb. 2 e-mail “legislation aimed at giving the federal government direct authority over Medicare Part D drug prices has little chance of near-term passage by a Republican-led Congress. Other measures may get more consideration, particularly those that can be perceived as speeding up the introduction of generic competitors.”

The bill that is most likely to move forward first is the Lower Drug Costs Through Competition Act(H.R. 749), which was introduced by Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) Jan. 30.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said at a Feb. 2 hearing that his committee will consider H.R. 749 soon.

Walden said the legislation “would require the FDA to prioritize and expedite the review of generic applications for drug products that are currently in shortage or where there are too few manufacturers on the market.” He also said the bill would increase transparency on the generic drug application backlog at the FDA.

The legislation also would create a priority review voucher that the FDA would award to a manufacturer that brings a generic drug to market when there isn’t any competition for the brand product.

Read my full article here.

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