Posted 17 March 2017
By Zachary Brennan
At least nine US House and Senate bills introduced in March would impact the pharmaceutical industry, including three to allow for more prescription drug imports from Canada, pharmacy benefit management (PBM) transparency and one on cost sharing for cancer medicines.
With regard to importation, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) introduced a bill seeking to allow an increase of less costly medicines from Canada and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) introduced a similar measure.
Cummings met with President Donald Trump to discuss the bill on 8 March, and a White House readout of the meeting noted: “Reforming the Food and Drug Administration and reducing the regulatory burdens on drug manufacturers so as to enhance competition will help accomplish” goals discussed, including ensuring “prescription drug prices are more affordable for all Americans.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) also introduced the Safe and Affordable Drugs From Canada Act of 2017.
The cancer drug pricing bill, introduced by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), seeks to address a lack of parity in cost sharing for oral oncology drugs.
The bill says: “A group health plan, and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage, that provides benefits with respect to anticancer medications administered by a health care provider shall provide that any cost sharing for prescribed, patient-administered anticancer medications that are used to kill, slow, or prevent the growth of cancerous cells and that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration is no less favorable than the cost sharing for anticancer medications that is intravenously administered or injected by a health care provider.”
Previously introduced in 2015, Lance said the bill is meant to help patients who are using cancer treatments “but are forced to pay astronomical out-of-pocket costs or forgo treatment altogether.”
Under the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, introduced 2 March by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), PBMs would be prevented from requiring that enrollees use a particular pharmacy “or provide an incentive to a plan enrollee to encourage the enrollee” to use a certain pharmacy.
The bill would also require the disclosure to the applicable pharmacies “all individual drug prices to be so updated in advance of the use of such prices for the reimbursement of claims.”
Both the Senate and the House seek to reauthorize a program for early detection, diagnosis and treatment regarding deaf and hard-of-hearing newborns, infants and young children.
And two others (Senate and House) look to minimize the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) also introduced a bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to “ensure that liquid over-the-counter medications are packaged with appropriate dosage delivery devices and, in the case of such medications labeled for pediatric use, appropriate flow restrictors, and for other purposes.”